The Knight Foundation announced Wednesday that it’s awarding nearly $2 million to nine projects that propose to use “crowdsourcing, mobile technology and digital investigative journalism to bring news and information to communities in new ways.”

At the top of the ticket is $719,500 to ProPublica and the New York Times for DocumentCloud. That’s a Web site “that will enhance investigative reporting by making source documents easy to find, share and read,” the foundation explains. “While rich source documents are the foundation of investigative journalism, too often reporters throw or tuck them away after a story fades, never to be used again.”

That’s true, and not simply to tidy up their desks. Journalists are proprietary about their working materials, often feel a need to be protective of the sources of them, and will get rid of them to keep them out of the wrong hands. I’d expect reporters to think very carefully about what they turn over to DocumentCloud.

The site, the Knight announcement continues, “will provide an online database of documents contributed by a consortium of news organizations, watchdog groups and bloggers, and shared with the public at large. Users will be able to search by topic, agency or location. Reporters will benefit from the wisdom of the crowd, which will be able to collaboratively examine large document sets.”

Here’s a link to a Knight pdf that describes all nine projects and the people behind them. The awards are a part of Knight’s “five-year, $25 million News Challenge, an international contest to fund digital news experiments that transform community life.”