The Knight Foundation has launched a "News Challenge" with $5 million to be given away in 2007. The website for the challenge says: "Show us how online news can help people improve their lives and shape their communities. Knight Foundation is seeking new ideas, pilot projects, commercial products and leadership initiatives that will improve the flow of information and news in the public interest."
There are five categories in which to compete:
- "crystal ball" award is "for ideas that focus on the future of news and communities and that have the potential to be developed into pilot projects." This is an award just for an idea!
- pilot project and field test for "real-life experiments designed to prove whether or not ideas work."
- "The leadership award is designed to help shape, guide and organize many related ideas into a more powerful movement."
- commercial products and investment: "We’re looking for great products that might not yield the return a venture capitalist is looking for, but that nonetheless are likely to be profitable and address a social need."
- open: "The open category is here to make sure we don’t miss working with the next “Google guys,” just because an idea didn’t fit a category."
As Rafat Ali comments today at PaidContent.org: "Finally, someone had some sense to invest in entrepreneurs, instead of trying to do an ad campaign bragging about the reach of newspapers, magazines, etc." Hmmm, is there a role model here for organizations such as OCLC, ALA and others that invest in marketing the benefits of libraries?