Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. No. 538.

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is a 15-member commission of luminaries assembled to recommend both public and private measures that would help American communities better meet their information needs.

A well-informed citizenry is critical to democracy. News, journalism and other information conduits play a central role in informing society. Yet, at a time when the problems facing American communities are arguably unprecedented in number, scope and complexity, the nation’s news and information systems, both commercial and not-for-profit, are in the midst of a technological revolution that is dramatically changing flows of news and information.

The digital revolution is driving this new look at the role of news and information in our society. As the Hutchins Commission did in the 1940s, and the Kerner and Carnegie Commissions did in the 1960s, this Knight Commission will formulate a national agenda calculated to improve the flow of news and information in the nation’s communities. The Commission’s research-based work will focus on three large questions:

* What are the information needs of communities in our American democracy?
The Commission will identify short- and long-term community needs for information. We are concerned with news and information “in the public interest,” intelligence that helps communities and their leaders face their 21st century challenges.

* What are the current trends affecting how community information needs are met?
Are media, including commercial, nonprofit, and governmental, meeting today’s information needs of communities? In what ways is the information sector falling short?

* What changes will ensure that community information needs will be better met in the future?
Are there new ways of thinking about our information environment that, once implemented, would increase the flow of news and information in the public interest? Can we unleash American’s power to innovate in this field, engaging the private, public and nonprofit sectors?

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