WeMedia: Social Entrepreneurs | Journalism as a Cause

Liveblogging from WeMedia:
Alberto Ibarguen, President, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Diana Wells, President, Ashoka, and Keith Hammond, Ashoka, are talking about the profound social impact of journalism.
Alberto talking about reaching out to community foundations to help them understand how information is an essential community need–you can’t run a democracy without information, and how do community orgs take a more active role? (sounds great). There may be some version of the Knight News Challenge for community foundations to propose and fund programs…what is TBD…That focus on community and news really drives Knight Foundation.
The announcement we have to day is about a grant we are making to Ashoka. Last year we made a grant to find social entrepreneurs in our 26 communities–Now, we want Ashoka to find 30 people in the field of journalism, anywhere in the world. We’re going to give a $3MM grants to focus the delivery of news and information in communities. (Susan says: Wow, this is great!)
Diana Wells says Ashoka as over 2,000 fellows in over 60 countries and defines its message as building a world where everyone is a change-maker. Ashoka finds leading social entrepreneurs and brings them “into a community of their peers” as a support and sustainability means–and it works–They also create and support institutions that make it easier for people to make this kind of social entrepeneurship a viable choice.
Diana: The Ashoka process is unique–people who meet our criteria will meet it whether or not they are covered by the Knight grant. We are looking for innovation in so many areas; anyone can be nominated and we look at everyone on the ground.
Alberto: We’ll have so much opportunity to get many points of view from a world wide perspective of what is journalism and what is appropriate.
Kaliya (audience): How will you actually find and support innovation?
(Discussion about open process for Knight News Challenge and using processes of open source and transparency.
Paula (from audience): Another way to inform this question might me to understand what being an Ashoka fellow would be like for a social entrepenur.
Diana: 3 years of funding, network of fellows, supportive environment
Discussion of program; Alberto says that program will support both established efforts and new efforts in this thread. (Susan says This is exciting).
Susan sez: This is a tremendously smart move on the part of Knight. Not only is Ashoka a great organization, but with the consolidation of media properties, the general paralysis of many newspapers under the pressures they face, and the fragmentation of local media (and the general spottiness of local and community online services), this program can be a tremendous kickstart in linking citizen journalism and civic action, leading to great community health.