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The Knight News Challenge

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced the winners of their annual news challenge. Every year the foundation hands out millions of dollars to applicants who have come up with the most innovative ideas for advancing the distribution of the news. The only requirements for application are that is has to use digital, open source technology, it has to distribute news and information, and it has to be in a geographically determined community. This year the 12 projects selected received a total of $2.74 million to put their ideas into practice. Since the entry window for the next challenge opens in just a couple of weeks on September 1st, I’m going to blog about my idea here and see what you guys think of it.

My idea is to create a search engine that is constantly compiling and sorting news stories from outlets across the internet. The key is that the topics of the stories will be drawn from various message boards and social communities. Based on the trending topics on twitter, the like application on facebook, the bookmarks on delicious, and numerous others my search engine, the Informed Opinion, will sort all the news stories on those relevant topics by a series of factors including, but not limited to, relevancy, geographic location, news or opinion, type of media outlet, location of outlet, and popularity.

Then from the search engine results, I would create a widget that each site could install, so that every popular conversation would have a quick link right along side to a list of all the important and current news stories on the subject. What this would do in addition to distributing the news and driving traffic to media websites, is to create a basic level of knowledge on each topic across the internet. Ever came across someone who espoused opinion as fact and needed a quick link to shut them up? This project would create a more informed environment in all web-based communities and far more valuable conversations as a result.

I came up with it during a particularly long search for exactly what a Lede tweet was about. Before being able to digest his take on the subject, I first had to understand what it is he was talking about. Then I thought back to all the seemingly interesting conversations I had to bow out of due to a lack of knowledge and time to to do the necessary research. Informed Opinion would provide a quick and simple way around that.

Let me know what you think. Here is a link to my official Knight proposal.


  1. August 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I think you are on to something here. Just looking at your idea from a students perspective, the idea of the widget would be great for class projects. A one stop shop for research!

    • August 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks. Yeah I think it could really be useful in bringing someone quickly up to speed on whatever everyone is talking about.

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