The Knight Foundation, which now offers three rounds of its News Challenge instead of one competition per year, just announced the theme of its next contest: mobile. This round focuses on funding innovators who are using mobile to change the face of the media industry.

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Considerable growth in mobile Internet usage over the past few years has meant the way in which people consume news is undoubtedly shifting — so it’s not much of a surprise that mobile would be the theme of one of this year’s rounds. In fact, several mobile players have already been the recipients of past News Challenge awards — think MobileActive, FrontlineSMS, as well as Watchup, Behavio and Peepol.tv, which were winners of the round on networks.

“We know that we (and our kids) have grown attached to our mobile devices,” Knight’s John Bracken and Christopher Sopher wrote in a blog post announcing the round, “but we have less clarity about the ways people are using them, or might use them, as citizens, content producers and consumers to tell, share and receive stories.”

move over, data

The announcement of the next theme comes as round 2, which focuses on data, moves onto the next stage. The round is now closed for submissions, and Knight’s team of advisers has selected 16 finalists. They’ll be doing interviews and video chats with the finalists over the next couple of weeks. Winners of the data round will be announced in September.

“We’ve focused the News Challenge this year on big opportunities in news and information — networks, data and now mobile,” Bracken and Sopher wrote in their post. “In some ways, mobile represents both the greatest need and greatest potential for individual citizens and news organizations.”

The mobile round will be open to applicants starting on August 29, and Knight will accept entries until September 10.

Desiree Everts is the associate editor for Idea Lab and PBS MediaShift. She’s dabbled in digital media for the past decade including stints at CNET News and Wired magazine. When she’s not editing, you can find her exploring the nearby redwoods and running after her chickens and her own brood.