Collaboration in Civic Spheres

In which Ferret bites into the Knight News Challenge: Data

by Matt Rosenberg June 21st, 2012

Public Data Ferret’s parent 501c3 Public Eye Northwest is pursuing plenty of other fundraising strategies, as we must. But we can never overlook the Knight News Challenge. The theme for Round Two 2012 is….Data. Please review our proposal and consider adding a supportive comment and a “Like”.

Knight will divide up to $5 million between winners, typically five or six per round. In the current grant competition, they’re looking for projects which demonstrate:

“new ways of collecting, understanding, visualizing and helping the public use the large amounts of information generated each day.”

An excerpt from our application:

How will your project make data more useful?
Public Data Ferret curates and translates unstructured government data – recent, high-news value documents hidden on the Deep Web – into Plain English, originally reported articles archived by jurisdiction and topic. The data mountain is curated, simplified and distributed. Through outreach, internships and visualizations we mainstream the primacy of data and objectivity.

How is your project different from what already exists?
The originally reported content is government sourced, always with direct links, bias- and jargon-free, and in topic and place archives so users can connect the dots.

Why will it work?
It will work because as the online information exa-flood grows, the need for authentic, reliable, curated knowledge intensifies. Users of search and participants in online social and face-to-face networks increasingly hunger for objective data about public affairs and public policy, rather than more opinion and snark, and know that data lives not only in data sets but in public documents as well. Liberating, processing and daylighting that unstructured data matters immensely. As legacy media decline, new actors must revitalize news and information ecosystems, often as trained volunteers.

[….}

How would you use News Challenge funds?
To fund for three years the work of three bureau chiefs/chief evangelists – one in Washington State, one in Oregon, and one in Idaho. They would each build and expand an infrastructure like the one we’ve begun in WA, working with colleges and a wide range of community stakeholders.

How would you sustain the project after the funding expires?
We would leverage more funds and volunteers through teaching and programmatic partnerships with public university and community college sponsors in each state, as well as legacy media, business interests and major community-based foundations. Fee-for-service revenue strategies will also be developed.

Requested amount:
$750,000

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