Seems fitting to open this new space with this traditional greeting, used by humans upon first interaction with a new computing environment.
My name is Lisa Williams, and along with 23 others writing on this blog, I am one of the winners of the Knight 21st Century News Challenge.
I pause here, because if there is one thing that blogging has taught me, it is to distinguish what I know from what I just think I know. When I don’t, well, that’s what my friend and fellow blogger Shimon Rura calls “self-teaching through shame” kicks in in the forms of one of blogging’s central innovation: comments. So it is with some hesitation that I try to characterize the motivations of the Knight Foundation when they gave away (gulp) $12 million dollars.
So this is what I think I know about what Knight is up to. But first, I’m going to put out another unproven assertion — because, hey, if we’re doing it, why not have a buffet? Feel free to add some crow for my delectation in the comments if I have gotten it completely wrong; that’s what it’s there for.
Hypothesis #1: News organizations are at a relative disadvantage in creating and sustaining innovation online when compared to companies like Google, Yahoo, or nimble startups like Facebook and Craigslist.
Hypothesis #2. The Knight News Challenge is an effort to attract the attention and interests of people who would otherwise not apply their talents to the news industry but instead start their own companies, or go work for tech companies who focus on bigger markets to stay alive.
In fact, I don’t know why the first slate of winners included MIT, MTV, and me, where my budget for Placeblogger can be loosely described (and it must, because it’s not like there was any bookkeeping going on) as “sell your personal possessions on eBay to make cool websites.”
Knight’s doing the News Challenge again this year. What projects will get the green light? What impact will the projects have, as a group or individually, on journalism? We don’t know, and that’s the best part.