The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy released its report “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age” in 2009 with 15 recommendations to better meet community information needs. Immediately following the release of “Informing Communities,” the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partnered to explore ways to implement the Commission’s recommendations. As a result, the Aspen Institute commissioned a series of white papers with the purpose of moving the Knight Commission recommendations from report into action.
Universal Broadband: Targeting Investments to Deliver Broadband Services to All Americans, Blair Levin, Former Executive Director of the Omnibus Broadband Initiative of the Federal Communications Commission and currently Communications and Society Fellow at the Aspen Institute. The paper analyzes how to diminish second-class digital citizenship by assuring access by all to broadband services. Universal Broadband author Blair Levin rigorously and repeatedly engaged the broadband community and other, more general audiences from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, Nevada. His in-person debates were reported in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and in the PBS space.
Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, Renee Hobbs, Founding Director, Media Education Lab, and Professor in the School of Communications and Theater and College of Education, Temple University. The paper asks how we can better foster the teaching or provision of digital, media and other “new literacies” in schools, libraries, colleges and universities, workforce development sites, and other local organizations. The paper has received wide distribution during at least five large conferences (including the American Library Association) engaged in the subject area, and is being used in the classroom at the college level. Also, the U.S. State Department is using the paper as they develop and implement an initiative linking schools in the U.S. with schools in Africa.
Rethinking Public Media: More Local, More Inclusive, More Interactive, Barbara Cochran, Curtis B. Hurley Chair of Public Service Journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, President Emeritus, Radio Television News Directors Association, and former Washington Bureau Chief, CBS News. The paper focuses on implementing ways to create support for a more local, diverse and interactive public media. Marymount University faculty are using the ideas expressed in Cochran’s Public Media paper as a “stepping off point” for one of their upcoming community initiatives. The paper was also the impetus for the University of Missouri Washington Program’s 2011 Hurley Symposium, held at the National Press Club and broadcast by C-SPAN. Nationally, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell featured the issues in the Public Media report during a national interview with author Barbara Cochran. The interview was also published on the MSNBC website.
Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory Government, Jon Gant, University of Illinois, and Nicol Turner-Lee, Vice President &Director of the Media and Technology Institute for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The paper outlines ways of enabling the provision of local government information online. The authors’ ideas appear in articles or blogs from O’Reilly Radar and Reuters, to state and university level publications, and as far as Australia.
Creating Local Online Hubs: Three Models for Action, Adam Thierer, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and former President of The Progress & Freedom Foundation. The paper provides steps to ensure that every local community has at least one high-quality online hub. Huffington Post and O’Reilly Radar’s Alex Howard spread the word on Thierer’s approaches to online hubs, offering in-depth analysis.
Civic Engagement and Community Information: Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication, Peter Levine, Research Director of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University and Director of CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement). The paper evaluates ways to encourage locals not just to have access to information but to engage with it and with other citizens in the community. The paper was featured at the spring 2011 Beyond Books Journalism & Libraries conference at MIT where Levine gave a keynote. Ideas in the Civic Engagement paper were discussed in Huffington Post, and redistributed via The World Bank’s Weekly Wire: The Global Forum.
Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World, Michael R. Fancher, Co-convenor of Journalism that Matters Pacific Northwest, Vice President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and former Executive Editor of the Seattle Times. The paper offers strategies and action ideas to strengthen local journalism that are supported by marketplace incentives, including both for-profit and non-profit models. The American Library Association featured the author and this paper at a session on the benefits of librarian and journalist collaborations at the 2011 ALA annual convention. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed the author’s guest commentary on the steps needed to promote original reporting in local communities.
Assessing Local Information Needs: A Practical Guide, Richard C. Harwood, President, Harwood Institute.
The paper offers a practical guide for building a more engaged, informed community by adopting civic strategies that spur the assessment and development of the local news and information environment. The paper proposes a set of nine strategies, governed by four guiding principles, to help people in a community take effective action. The paper includes a helpful checklist for getting started.