New ideas to fight fake news - and Knight money to do so

AP Poll Paying for News
The collapse of newspaper advertising has weakened traditional sources of news.

Three months ago, the Knight Foundation asked people to submit their ideas for ways to battle fake news and bolster factual journalism.

And boy, did they.

More than 800 responded.

On Thursday, the foundation and two partners announced 20 winners, each to receive a $50,000 grant to further their work.

They include Baltimore-based, which wants to curb the financial incentive for creating fake news via automatically updated lists of misleading websites.

Another winner is Who Said What, based in San Francisco, which aims to help people more easily fact-check audio and video news clips through a search tool that annotates millions of those clips.

Several projects focus on developing ways to better reach diverse and politically disparate communities, and all, in one way or another, promote media literacy.

Each team will work to improve its project during the next nine months, then meet to share discoveries and prototypes.

“It is vitally important to our democracy that we battle misinformation and improve the flow of accurate news and information so the public can make informed decisions,” said Jennifer Preston, the Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.

In March, the Knight Foundation, the Washington-based Democracy Fund, and the Rita Allen Foundation in Princeton launched an open call, seeking ideas from technologists, journalists, designers, teachers, researchers, and anyone else who thought they knew a way forward.

The grants come at a moment when President Trump has dismissed the reporting of major American news organizations as “fake news” and the internet spews endless false reports and theories. At the same time, traditional newspapers and TV news programs have been weakened by an erosion of advertising revenue and the migration of readers to free online news sites.

Some of the other winners include:

  • “Breaking Filter Bubbles in Science Journalism,” by the University of California, Santa Cruz. The team wants to produce visually engaging science reporting around topics such as climate change and genetics.
  • “ChartCheck,” by Periscopic in Portland, Ore., which addresses misinformation that’s spread in charts and graphs by enabling the fact-checking of sources.
  • “Crosscheck,” by Vanderbilt University in collaboration with First Draft, which will use design features to make factual news more memorable.
  • “Hoaxy Bot-o-Meter,” by the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, which is developing a tool to uncover attempts to use internet bots to spread misinformation.

More information is at