I've created a public Google Docs News Challenge template to use as a scratch/working space for the longform answers of the 2010 Knight Foundation News Challenge. It's also a great way to prepare your answers if you're collaborating with other individuals. I use Docs' Tools -> Word Count on selected answers to measure how much space I have.
The contest form does offer live word counts and saving your work - but I feel more comfortable working in google docs and sharing my drafts with colleagues.
If the contest site slows down approaching the deadline, this is also a way to minimize delay in preparation of your entries.
Note: this form is just there to help you prepare your entry. You'll still have to log in to the News Challenge site and use their Web forms to complete an official entry. I just cut & paste my answers from Google Docs into the Web form.
Good luck to all of you ... and here are some tips I offered up via the Knight Foundation blog.