FrontlineSMS to bring new mobile tools to journalists around the world with $250,000 Knight News Challenge grant


FrontlineSMS will develop new tools to enable digital news gathering anywhere there’s a mobile signal with $250,000 awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The support is part of the Knight News Challenge, an annual media innovation contest founded and run by Knight Foundation, and supported this year by Google. You can read the Knight Foundation's page about the announcement here.

With the award, FrontlineSMS, an initiative of the Kiwanja Foundation, will build two key products for journalists and broadcasters: one to facilitate participatory journalism, interaction and collaboration from community members and audiences, and one to enable journalists to use their simple mobile phones as powerful reporting tools. Throughout the project, the FrontlineSMS team will benefit not only from Knight’s financial support, but also its extensive global network of journalists and media innovators, people whose insights and experience will help shape the development and deployment of these tools.

According to Ken Banks, the creator of FrontlineSMS, “Working with our user community, we've seen the challenges that last-mile populations face in sending and receiving critical information.  Thanks to an incredible group of innovative journalists and other partners, we've also seen the potential of mobile technologies to improve the quality and quantity of news all over the world.  With the generous support of Knight Foundation, FrontlineSMS will build tools that bridge the gap between challenge and opportunity, engaging previously under-served communities in the news and conversations that affect their lives."

“FrontlineSMS has been a trail blazer for the creative application of mobile technology in low-bandwidth rural areas,” said John Bracken, director of digital media, Knight Foundation. “We’re excited to help them to apply their knowledge and tools towards addressing the information needs of rural communities.”

The award itself was presented during a ceremony at the 2011 Knight-MIT Civic Media Conference on Wednesday, June 22, at 2:30pm EDT. Sean McDonald, FrontlineSMS’ Director of Operations: Americas, accepted the award. You'll hear more from Sean about the event in an upcoming blog post.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

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