$5 Million Community News Competition: "who will build community through new media?"

The Knight Foundation is inviting entries to a $5 million competition to find innovative new ways to use online journalism to strengthen community life.
The 21st Century News Challenge is subtitled “who will build community through new media?”.
That’s exactly what we aim to do here, with the Grassroots Channel connecting active citizens, and Podminions providing a platform to help school pupils find their voice.
The challenge is open to everyone: individuals, companies and organisations from any country.

They don’t want the obvious:

We love citizen bloggers, but to qualify for one of these awards, you’ll have to show how what you’re doing will transform the field. Blogging about a school board meeting is valuable, but not unique.

and go on to explain why they hope to spend $5 million a year for 5 years on the intitiative:

The future of our communities, towns, suburbs, cities and states depends on the future of citizens’ ability to get the news they need to run their governments and their lives.

The goal here is to keep the values of good journalism — the fair, accurate, contextual search for the truth — as we construct the information vehicles of the future. It is news in the public interest that really makes our social worlds go round.

But when readers move from the printed newspaper to seek information online, who in cyberspace performs this function? Who is going to do in new media what Jack Knight and Jim Knight did with ink on paper in the 20th century?

We want to explore whether and how the digital world can be used to connect people in the real world. When we say community, we mean the real-life places where people live and work.  Truth is, online communities don’t need us.  Virtual communities spring up every day. But the idea of turning the web on its head to help people connect in real life does need our help.

We seek to bring technology to the arena of journalism values, just as we will also seek to bring journalism values into the arena of technology.

All I know about the Knight Foundation is what I’ve read on their website – a huge endowment left by the founders of what was once America’s largest local newspaper group. So if you can tell me more please do so.

In the meantime I’ve got my thinking cap on. If any one – especially in my own community in Birmingham – would like to collaborate then please get in touch.