A rejiggered phone booth from New York Public Radio, a mobile app produced by StoryCorps and a public-records data tool from the founder of FOIA Machine are among the 16 recipients of grants from this year’s Knight Foundation Prototype Fund. The foundation’s annual contest awards six-month, $35,000 grants to help recipients develop early-stage media ideas. Winners were announced Thursday. “While six months and a $35,000 grant might not always be enough to finish version one of a project, it can go a long way towards validating an assumption, developing a minimum viable product or identifying a need to revise an approach,” Chris Barr, a media innovation associate with Knight, wrote in a release. This year’s pubmedia and nonprofit media prototype grant winners include:
Talk Box, a New York Public Radio project to turn select New York City phone booths into “a direct, two-way line to the New York Public Radio newsroom.”
DIY StoryCorps, a mobile app from StoryCorps that will allow users to record and upload stories on their own, without visiting a StoryCorps booth.
• NPR introduced voice recognition–enabled ads this week on its smartphone app in an attempt to connect its nearly one million mobile listeners with sponsors, Adweek reports. The 15-second audio spots ask listeners to say “Download now” or “Hear more” after hearing an ad that sparks their interest. • The Knight Foundation has awarded a joint grant to the nonprofit newsrooms Voice of San Diego and MinnPost to help them develop plans to grow membership. The two-year, $1.2 million grant will be divided evenly between the news operations, who will collaborate on using membership data more effectively. Nieman runs down how the sites will use the grant.
The Knight Foundation and the Investigative News Network (INN) are teaming up to award $1 million in microgrants for innovation at public media and nonprofit news operations. The INNovate Fund is one of several initiatives totaling $5 million that Knight has planned in response to its 2013 in-depth study of nonprofit news sustainability. Knight will provide the funding, while INN will manage the two-year grant program and select recipients. Online applications will open March 1 and are open to all nonprofit and public media news organizations. Successful applications should meet three criteria, according to INN CEO Kevin Davis.
As a growing number of public media organizations turn to Kickstarter to raise funding for new projects — with mixed success — development professionals and others in nonprofit media have begun evaluating both the potential and limitations of this new fundraising method.