Monday, April 20, 2009

Knight Commission Invites Public Input
on Community Information Needs

What information do Americans need to accomplish the personal goals and to be effective citizens in our democracy? How are they getting their news and information? And what would they do to improve the quality of news and information available to them?

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy ( has been conducting the first major study in the digital age to identify the information needs of communities in a democracy, assess how and whether those needs are being met, and recommend steps to improve the fulfillment of those needs.

Now the Commission, in partnership with PBS Engage, is seeking public input from citizens across the nation from Tuesday April 21 – Friday May 8, 2009 at The site offers an interactive experience and includes a preliminary draft of the introduction to the Commission’s report, survey questions for the public to answer, highlight videos from some of the public forums and meetings held by the Commission, blogs about the Commission’s work, and a forum for citizens to express their thoughts and opinions.

During the public input period, Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, and Co-Chair of the Commission, will answer citizens’ questions about the Commission’s work via Google Moderator, which enables participants to both submit and vote on questions they think should be answered

The Commission’s upcoming final report will include recommendations for achieving the news and information environment that democratic communities need in order to thrive. The Commission launched in June 2008 with an aggressive agenda to assess the information needs of citizens from a variety of different types of communities in order to make concrete recommendations to public policy makers about improving local information flow. The free flow of news and information in communities is essential to effective democracy. With the digital age transforming media worldwide, reducing traditional journalism in a number of communities, the Commission is focused on how Americans will get the news and information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and for their communities.

Over the past year the Commission held seven public forums and meetings in communities across the nation and heard from more than 100 speakers, including community organizers, educators, journalists from old and new media, labor leaders, technology engineers and strategists, entrepreneurs, futurists, public officials, policy analysts, economic consultants and community foundation representatives. The Commission has also received significant input from an informal advisory network of journalists, academics, and people involved in policy and community work.

The Knight Commission, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, operates out of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program in Washington, D.C. It includes seventeen respected representatives of journalism, communities and public policy with diverse perspectives, including Co-Chairs Mayer and Theodore B. Olson, Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and former U.S. Solicitor General, and ex-officio members Alberto Ibarg├╝en and Walter Isaacson, presidents respectively of Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute. The Commission’s executive director is Peter Shane, a law professor at The Ohio State University, who is advised by a committee of journalists, policymakers and academic experts from a variety of fields. For more information on the Knight Commission, visit

Peter M. Shane
Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Chair in Law and
Director, Project on Law and Democratic Development
The Ohio State University
Moritz College of Law
55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210

Executive Director, Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

Phone: 614-688-3014
FAX: 614-688-8422
E-Mail: or Sphere: Related Content

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