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Knight Foundation Awards $5.1 Million To News Challenge Winners

documentcloud.pngYesterday, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the winners of its 2009 Knight News Challenge, which provides funding to innovative digital news projects submitted to the foundation.

This year, the Knight Foundation awarded a total of $5.1 million in grants to nine new projects and 17 winners from the two previous years. The largest amount of funding — $719,500 — went to a project called DocumentCloud, a joint venture between The New York Times and ProPublica. Talking Points Memo is also joining in the collaboration, the company said yesterday.

According to the Knight Foundation, DocumentCloud will be “a Web site that will enhance investigative reporting by making source documents easy to find, share and read” by providing “an online database of documents contributed by a consortium of news organizations, watchdog groups and bloggers, and shared with the public at large.”

The project is led by Ben Koski and Aron Pilhofer of the Times and ProPublica’s Scott Klein and Eric Umansky (in the picture above). Today, Eric, Aron and Scott joined in an interactive chat on Poynter.org, explaining what DocumentCloud will be.

“Too many documents today still end up on the digital equivalent of the cutting room floor,” they said. “What documents journalists do post — and of course they increasingly do — they’re PDFs, a not particularly user-friendly format. DocumentCloud is meant to make each step along the way much easier, and moreover will make the documents more journalistically valuable by showing information about them and the relations between them.”

A full list of the winners and a description of their projects can be found here.

This is the third year that the Knight Foundation has held its News Challenge, and it has pledged to donate $25 million over 5 years.

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