Interested in learning about innovative projects that support journalism, freedom of information and the Internet? Well, it’s that time of year again! The Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge is currently underway. Last year, WITNESS was honored to be selected as the recipient of a Knight News Challenge grant for our project with The Guardian Project, InformaCam. With this year’s batch currently topping 667 entries, we thought we would share some of our favorite projects. We encourage you to take a look and consider supporting the projects by clicking on the “applause” button. With three days until the feedback period ends, these projects can use all the love they can get. Want to learn more about the Knight News Challenge and how it works? Click Here.

Checkdesk by Meedan

“How can I verify this? That’s the constant refrain of journalists covering fast-moving stories online. Faced with a barrage of videos, tweets and photos from myriad sources, how do you know what’s true?”

Checkdesk is a media verification platform created by Meedan, a non-profit social technology company based in San Francisco and Cairo. Taking lessons learned from the Arab Spring uprisings and recent news events whose coverage centered on content sourced from citizen video and social media such as the Boston Marathon bombings, Checkdesk provides journalists with a verification checklist based off of the parameters outlined in the recent Verification Handbook to help determine the authenticity of citizen media. The platform connects media makers and journalists, helping both parties amplify and share verified media in a chaotic media environment. This video explains more about how it works:

Threatened Voices

“Threatened Voices (TV) is a unique collaborative mapping project by Global Voices Advocacy to build a database of online people who are threatened, arrested or killed for speaking out online and to draw attention to campaigns that highlight their cause.”

Started in 2009, the creators hope to bring attention to the campaigns of these individuals and provide data on freedom of expression online for researchers and activists interested in digital activism. Threatened Voices is seeking to keep this database updated and credible. If properly funded, this information could serve an incredible resource to the human rights defenders and internet freedom organizations.

Syria Untold

“Syria Untold is a digital archive and web aggregator of contents related to civil disobedience, nonviolent movements, and creative resistance in Syria.”

Syria Untold provides the outside world a look into life in Syria beyond the headlines. Available in both Arabic and English, the project also serves to connect and create community amongst individuals and organizations working for an end to violence in Syria. Check out the site here.

The Civic Beat Sandbox: Internet Memes for Social Change

“A collaborative, wiki-style platform for archiving and curating social change memes that allows international journalists, social change advocates and concerned citizens to shape the global news conversation.”

Digital activists listen up! Are you looking for inspiration or ideas for your next catchy online campaign? Look no further than The Civic Beat Sandbox, a curated collection of the best social change memes from around the web. From racism to human rights to climate change, the Sandbox hopes to highlight a range of campaigns and subjects by engaging directly with activists and sharing their work with a larger audience. They also aim to use the site to collect best practices and effective new strategies for digital campaigning. We are excited to see this project blossom and reach new generations and communities of potential activists and organizers.

Speechfire: A Hub for Free Speech Online by PBS MediaShift

“We want to create a safe space for reporters, bloggers and whistleblowers in repressed societies to report safely on what’s going on there. We’ll do that with a safe texting service called TextFreedom which anyone can use to send in reports.”

Speechfire is a proposed global online hub for content from NGOs and journalists covering issues related to freedom of expression online. The site will have a number of methods for the safe submission of content including a texting service to communicate current events and freedom of expression violations, and the ability to submit information using Tor and other encryption tools. Through providing a platform with secure communication, Speechfire hopes to feature a significant amount of content from journalists working under repressive regimes to help them share accurate news taking place in their respective countries. A site like Speechfire would be an exciting development for all parties working on freedom of expression and show the strength of our collective voice and global presence.

SecureApp Generator: Secure Mobile Apps for Everyone by Benetech

“The secureApp Generator by Benetech develops and supports a public system for the creation of secure, multilingual, and open source data collection apps that will improve information management and reduce the risk of exposure for reporters, researchers, and activists.”

Where will the data for your advocacy or research project live in 10 years? How will you make sure that it is safe, intact and accessible? Benetech’s SecureApp Generator wants to create an app for you to help with mobile data collection for your next project and make sure that you have answers for these questions. Complete with many features that support human rights data collection, including a panic button to erase all data from mobile devices, the expansion of the SecureApp Generator could help strengthen the efforts of human rights defenders working in various contexts.

Graphic from the Knight News Challenge website

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