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Top New Media Figures Have a Place to Experiment And Look at Changes in Journalism and Community News

Arlington, VA and Miami; Oct. 17, 2007 - PBS and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today debuted the MediaShift Idea Lab blog (www.pbs.org/idealab), a group blog featuring 36 wide-ranging innovators reinventing community news for the digital age.

Each Idea Lab blogger won a grant in the Knight News Challenge to help fund a startup idea or to blog on a topic related to reshaping community news. The writers will use the Idea Lab to explain their projects, share intelligence and interact with the online community.

Knight Foundation's News Challenge contest awards up to $5 million annually to individuals who innovate community news using digital technology. The contest, housed at www.newschallenge.org, is open to anybody, anywhere worldwide.

"I'm excited to be showcasing some of the most innovative ideas by people who are actively reinventing community news," said Mark Glaser, executive editor of PBS MediaShift and MediaShift Idea Lab. "New media thinkers such as Jay Rosen and J.D. Lasica will be blogging regularly, as well as academics like Henry Jenkins from MIT, alongside commercial media figures such as Ian Rowe at MTV. It's a lineup of new media heavyweights experimenting and thinking about how local communities can be served as we move from print newspapers toward online and citizen media."

Glaser added, "Not only will the bloggers be writing about their philosophies, they'll be giving real world examples of what it's like to create innovative web sites and projects themselves."

Eric Newton, vice president of Knight Foundation's journalism program, said, "The digital revolution is turning journalism upside down and inside out. We think the Idea Lab will help innovators and journalism leaders find their way to a better future."

Added Gary Kebbel, journalism program officer and News Challenge coordinator: "Thanks to the Idea Lab blog everyone now has the chance to look over the shoulders of top notch innovators as they go about reinventing community news. It's like Thomas Edison having an open house all the time."

Among Knight Foundation projects to be featured on Idea Lab:


  • From MIT, an endeavor to create the "Center for Future Civic Media," designed to build stronger communities through innovation in digital media applied to journalism.
  • MTV will be putting a "Knight Mobile Youth Journalist" in every state. These young people will create video news reports for distribution on cell phones. Viewers will rate the videos and those with the highest ratings will be broadcast on MTV.
  • In New York, the "Gotham Gazette" will develop games to inform and engage players about key issues confronting New York City. The games report what solutions the players developed and relay those ideas to city officials.
  • The "Playing the News" project is a news simulation environment letting citizens play through a complex, evolving news story through interaction with the newsmakers.
  • Seven academic "incubators" will foster creative thinking about solutions to digital news problems. The schools are: Michigan State, University of Kansas, Kansas State, Western Kentucky University, Ithaca College, University of Nevada-Las Vegas and St. Michael's College.

Knight Foundation provided a grant to MediaShift to produce Idea Lab and to enhance the original MediaShift blog with audio, video and citizen journalism projects. Idea Lab is produced by MediaShift and hosted by PBS.

About PBS
PBS is a media enterprise that serves 355 public noncommercial television stations and reaches more than 75 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (www.pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

About Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted more than $300 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation supports ideas and projects that create transformational change.