Putting the public interest in public interest journalism

Journalists have a lot of high-minded ideals about journalism. We don't always live up to these ideals, but in Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation decided to put some money behind the concept that journalism should be a public service. It created the Center for Public Interest Journalism and the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network (now AxisPhilly). It put millions of dollars directly into public interest journalism, with a three-year runway to figure out what shape such an endeavor could take.

And yet it failed. Why? (And why am I attempting to answer this?*)

At the risk of burning bridges, I want to attempt an answer that helps push the public conversation forward, in the direction of revived public interest reporting in Philadelphia.

Deepening engagement with the journalism tech community, as a Fellow

This year the eight Knight-Mozilla Fellows are roughly half folks who were not previously involved with journalism development and half people who have deepened their engagement with this community via the Fellowship. Last week, we heard from the first group, Fellows who took varied paths to their news organizations. This week we learned what it's like for people who have worked in newsrooms to experience those spaces as a Knight-Mozilla Fellow.

What do you mean, I get to do whatever I want? Stijn Debrouwere began the week by expressing his awe at the very premise of the Fellowship and the space it allows for exploration.

The search is on for 2014 Fellows

Yesterday OpenNews launched the search for five Knight-Mozilla Fellows in 2014. In just 24 hours, we already received eight applications. Applications came in from six countries on four continents. We heard from Argentina, Belgium, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, and the U.S. From coders who, in addition to English, speak five other languages. From people who want to use their skills to hack and experiment with some of the best news organizations in the world.