Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition

Citizen Media

A Global Innovation Competition

Competition Information

Competition News

Winners Announced!

Ashoka Changemakers®, with the support of Google, is seeking innovations in Citizen Media.  

The four entries that received the most votes from the Changemakers online community will each earn a prize of US $5,000. You may continue to read and comment on all entries.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive regular updates and to give us your feedback.

Check out our new Citizen Media Toolkit and navigate a selection of the best citizen media ideas that catalyze participatory citizenship, locally and on a global scale, learn strategies for success, share your ideas and collaborate.

Welcome Letter

Media connects people to their world, gives voice to their ideas and dreams, and equips them with knowledge to improve their lives and the lives of others. In all these ways, media catalyzes participatory citizenship, on both a local and global scale.

But even in this age of pervasive media, many millions of people marginalized by political and economic barriers lack access to even the most basic tools of information -- thereby depriving them of valuable input and connection, and depriving the rest of the world of their voices.

Ashoka Changemakers hopes to change that by inviting the world’s citizens -- notably you -- to enter Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition. What do we mean by this? Well, we’re waiting for you to tell us, but here are some initial ideas for what strong entries might hope to achieve:

  • Give voice to underserved, vulnerable populations, introducing them to media creation and distribution (e.g., crowdsourcing strategies, training to advance digital literacy);
  • Equip journalists and publishers with tools or channels to report important news that otherwise gets missed (e.g., content creation, aggregation and distribution solutions);
  • Advance free speech and privacy protections (e.g., encryption tools to protect the identity of content creators and users);
  • Address the financial sustainability of quality news (e.g., micropayments systems that reward journalists, models for revenue sources); and
  • Help people better navigate information and ascertain content reliability and authenticity (e.g., content sorting and fact-checking tools).


Got any good ideas yet? We thought you might. Starting on July 13th, 2011, Ashoka Changemakers invites you to share them with your fellow global citizens.

This competition is run by Ashoka with sponsorship from Google.

Guidelines & Criteria


Who should enter:

If you are a changemaker who is transforming the way people communicate or access news and information, we want to hear from you! We are seeking innovations that will allow all global citizens to have a voice and the information they need to make change. We welcome solutions that work with any communication or information technologies—not just the Internet. The competition is open to solutions around the world, though we can only accept your entry in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Thai, Indonesian, Mandarin, or Japanese. (Please see Translation Disclaimer below.)

Why you should enter:

  • Connect to a global online community that supports the impact you are making, or seeking to make, on the ground.
  • Gain visibility with our community and our competition partner, Google.
  • Position yourself as a candidate for an Ashoka Fellowship within our News & Knowledge program.
  • A chance to win!

What you can win:

  • One of four US $5,000 cash prizes in unrestricted funding to boost your project.
  • A US $500 additional cash prize (if you enter before August 3, 2011).
  • Consideration for an Ashoka Fellowship—complete with a three-year living stipend, international recognition, and access to a network of systems-changing social entrepreneurs.

How to enter:

  • Take a look at this video or take a look at these step-by-step instructions.
  • Read through these tips about how to make your entry stand out.

Read all the fine print below to learn more about how you can win.


Competition Guidelines

The competition is open to all individuals, teams, and organizations from all countries. It welcomes entries that:

  • Reflect the theme of the challenge: Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition .
  • Represent innovations in media that allow more people to express themselves, make their voices heard, and/or find reliable and credible news and information.
    • Note: Entries are not limited to those that work with Internet technology. The competition welcomes innovations that leverage any technologies (i.e. radio, television, bush notes, mobile technology) that are the most impactful for achieving their goals.
  • Have indicate a path for growth beyond the conceptual stage either through early mocks or having already demonstrated some impact. While we support new ideas at every stage and encourage their entry, the judges are better able to evaluate programs that are beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated proof of impact.
  • Are submitted in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Thai, Indonesian, Mandarin, or Japanese. (Please see Translation Disclaimer below.)

Please complete the entire entry form and submit by 5pm EST on September 14, 2011.

Assessment Criteria

Winners of Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition will be those entries that best meet the following criteria:

  • Innovation: This is the knock-out test—if the work is not innovative the judges will not give it high rankings. The entry must describe how it strengthens the voices of global citizens and/or empowers them with reliable information to make change happen. The innovation should be a unique model of change demonstrating a substantial difference from other initiatives in the field with the possibility for large-scale replication.
  • Social Impact: It is important that the innovative idea provides a system-changing solution for the issue it addresses. Some innovations will have proven success at a small level, while others may have already engaged millions of people around the world.
  • Sustainability: Innovations will be judged on their long-term vision for increasing impact and creating lasting change. The proposals must have a clear “road map” for reaching long-term goals and securing financial backing. Entries should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance in the future. They should also have a realistic time frame for implementation.

For entrants working to position themselves as candidates for Ashoka Fellowship, you’ll also use your entry form to demonstrate your fit with five criteria against which all Fellow candidates are evaluated—namely: a new idea, creativity, entrepreneurial quality, social impact of the idea, and ethical fiber.

Translation Disclaimer

The competition will accept entries in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, and Mandarin. All non-English entries will be translated into English for review by our judges and the general public.

Entries received in French, Portuguese, and Spanish will be translated into English by our team of translators.

Entries received in the other eligible languages of Arabic, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, and Mandarin will be translated into English through our translation software. Please be advised that this method may not be 100% accurate.

Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules

Online competition submissions are accepted until 5PM EST on September 14, 2011. At any time before this deadline, competition participants are encouraged to revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive through Changemakers discussion online. Participation in the discussion enhances an entrant’s prospects in the competition and provides the public and the judges an opportunity to understand the entrant’s project more completely.

There are four main phases in the competition:

  • Entry Stage, July 13 – September 14, 2011: Entries can be submitted until 5PM EST on September 14, 2011, and throughout this stage anyone can participate in an online review discussion with the entrants.
    • Early Entry deadline, August 3, 2011: Entries received by 5PM EDT on August 3, 2011 are eligible for one of two US $500 Early Entry prizes.
  • Online Review and Judging, September 14 – October 12, 2011: Online review and discussion continues. Simultaneously, a panel of expert judges and a team of Ashoka staff select the competition finalists.
  • Voting, November 9 – November 23, 2011: The public votes online to select four award-winners from the field of finalists.
  • Winners Announced, November 28, 2011: Four winners will be named and each receive a cash prize of US $5,000.


Early Entry Prize:

Early entries, received by 5PM EDT on August 3, 2011 will be eligible to win one of two cash prizes of US $500. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, nor guarantee finalist status. All entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.


The judges will select a pool of finalists that best exemplify the competition assessment criteria. From this pool, the public will vote to select four winners. Each winner will each receive a cash prize of US $5,000.

Winners will be announced November 28, 2011.

Participation in the competition provides the opportunity to receive feedback on your solution from fellow entrants, Changemakers staff, judges, expert commentators, and the general public. Showcasing your solution and the challenges involved in creating social impact through community engagement advises potential investors about how best maximize the strategic impact of their future investments.

Consideration for Ashoka Fellowship

Top entries in Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition will be considered as candidates for election to Ashoka’s global fellowship of social entrepreneurs. Ashoka’s nearly 2700 Fellows are the pillars of Ashoka’s vision of Everyone a Changemaker&reg: They are leaders who drive a sector forward, responding to new challenges and changing needs with powerful, system-changing ideas. They are rooted in local communities but think and act globally.

Ashoka Fellows typically receive financial support, as needed, to pursue their visions full-time during the critical launch phase of their idea. Some also have access to Ashoka’s strategic partners who provide consulting, marketing, and legal services. More importantly, they join a worldwide community of leading social entrepreneurs working for change in human rights, the environment, capital markets, and dozens of other fields.

Qualifying entrants whose work impacts a country in which Ashoka currently operates will participate with other candidates in Ashoka’s country-based Fellow selection process according to Ashoka’s selection criteria. The selection process is rigorous and includes in-depth personal interviews, background reviews, and site visits.

Disclaimer — Compliance with Legal Restrictions

Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. All grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.

Judges Panel

Esther Wojcicki

Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Creative Commons

Isaac Lee

President, News, Univision

Jared Cohen

Director of Google Ideas, Google

John Lilly

Partner, Greylock Partners

Justin Arenstein

Publisher and CEO, African Eye News Service (AENS) and HomeGrown Magazines

Michael Maness

Vice President/Journalism and Media Innovation, Knight Foundation

Sanjana Hattotuwa

Founding Editor, Groundviews