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Innovation Tools, JMC 494
In his nearly 15 years at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Newton expanded the foundation’s journalism and media innovation program, overseeing the development of more than $300 million in grants, $160 million of which went to universities for pioneering projects in journalism education.
Newton developed grants for groundbreaking initiatives such as Poynter Institute’s News University, the largest online journalism training portal in the world, and Sunshine Week, an annual national observance of the importance of open government.
His work was central to the creation of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, a high-visibility consortium of leading journalism schools dedicated to transforming journalism education at the university level. The initiative produced the landmark News21 program, headquartered at the Cronkite School, in which top journalism students from across the country produce multimedia investigations on issues of national significance. Since its inception in 2006, nearly 500 journalism students have produced investigations that have captured numerous professional and collegiate awards and have appeared in major outlets that include The Washington Post, USA Today and NBC News.
At Knight Foundation in 2007, Newton’s team launched the nationally recognized Knight News Challenge, a media innovation competition that funds breakthrough ideas in journalism. The challenge, designed to open up digital media to innovative ideas from anywhere, went on to attract more than 10,000 applications and provide more than $37 million to 100-plus projects.
Newton also led major initiatives totaling more than $10 million involving high school journalism, newsroom training and investigative reporting. He co-produced five national studies on how well high school students know and understand the First Amendment.
Before joining Knight Foundation, Newton was founding managing editor of the Newseum in Arlington, Va. (now in Washington, D.C.), leading the content team at the world’s first museum of news. He started his career at California newspapers. As managing editor of the Oakland Tribune, he helped guide the paper to numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.
He is the author of numerous books and publications, including “Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes From the Digital Age of Journalism,” “Crusaders, Scoundrels, Journalists: The Newseum’s Most Intriguing Newspeople” and “Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs.”
Newton shared a Peabody Award for Link TV’s nightly news program, “Mosaic: World News From the Middle East.” He won the Reddick Award at the University of Texas for service to the field of communications, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation First Amendment Award for Knight Foundation’s work to create Sunshine Week, and the Markoff Award from the University of California Berkeley for Knight’s support of investigative reporting.
Newton holds a master’s degree in international studies from the University of Birmingham in England and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Francisco State University.