Editor’s note: The , a group of 17 media, policy and community leaders, issued its report Friday. Conclusions and recommendations

The United States stands at what could be the beginning of a democratic renaissance, nurtured by innovative social practices and powerful technologies. With tools of communication (both old and new), dynamic institutions for promoting knowledge and the exchange of ideas, and a renewed commitment to engage in public life, Americans could find themselves in a brilliant new age.

The Knight Commission has recommended a series of strategies that, in various ways, exhort our major public and nonprofit institutions to give new priority to values of openness, inclusion, and engagement. The values questions posed are equally profound, however, for individual citizens and for media institutions. Creating informed communities is a task for everyone.

Communities throughout America need for their members to re-examine their individual roles as citizens in the digital age. More than ever, technology enables each citizen, as well as every business firm and every nonprofit organization, to be a productive part of the community. Those opportunities, however, and the social benefits they offer, imply a reciprocal responsibility to participate.

Likewise, communities can call upon their media institutions to confront how new technological capacities and social practices are challenging core values. The evolving relationship among journalists, media firms, and the public should engender a deep discussion about how these changes affect such values as objectivity, privacy, and accountability.

This report is intended to help America maintain its commitment to enduring information ideals, even as individuals and communities create information ecologies more relevant, participatory, and inclusive than ever. There need be no second-class citizens in the democratic communities of the digital age. Whether America fulfills this vision will require individual and collective initiative at every level of society.

Conclusions and recommendations from the report:

A. Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information

People need relevant and credible information to be free and self-governing.

The Commission concludes:

• The current financial challenges facing private news media could pose a crisis for democracy.

• Public media should provide better local news and information.

• Not-for-profit and non-traditional media can be important sources of journalism.

• Public information belongs to the public. Government must be more open.

• Informed communities can measure their information health.

The Commission recommends:

Recommendation 1: Direct media policy toward innovation,
competition, and support for business models that provide
marketplace incentives for quality journalism.

Recommendation 2: Increase support for public service
media aimed at meeting community information needs.

Recommendation 3: Increase the role of higher education,
community and nonprofit institutions as hubs of journalistic
activity and other information-sharing for local communities.

Recommendation 4: Require government at all levels to operate transparently, facilitate easy and low-cost access to public records, and make civic and social data available in standardized formats that support the productive public use of such data.

Recommendation 5: Develop systematic quality measures of community information ecologies, and study how they affect social outcomes.

B. Enhancing the Information Capacity of Individuals

People need tools, skills, and understanding to use information effectively.

The Commission concludes:

• All people have a right to be fully informed.

• There need be no second-class citizens in informed communities.

• Funding to meet this goal is an investment in the nation’s future.

• Americans cannot compete globally without new public policies and investment in technology.

The Commission recommends:

Recommendation 6: Integrate digital and media literacy as
critical elements for education at all levels through collaboration among federal, state, and local education officials.

Recommendation 7: Fund and support public libraries and other community institutions as centers of digital and media training, especially for adults.

Recommendation 8: Set ambitious standards for nationwide broadband availability and adopt public policies
encouraging consumer demand for broadband services.

Recommendation 9: Maintain the national commitment
to open networks as a core objective of Internet policy.

Recommendation 10: Support the activities of information
providers to reach local audiences with quality content through all appropriate media, such as mobile phones, radio, public access cable, and new platforms.

C. Promoting Public Engagement

To pursue their true interests, people need to be engaged with information and with each other.

The Commission concludes:

• Creating informed communities is a task for everyone.

• Young people have a special role in times of great change.

• Technology can help everyone be part of the community.
• Everyone should feel a responsibility to participate.

The Commission recommends:

Recommendation 11: Expand local media initiatives to reflect the full reality of the communities they represent.

Recommendation 12: Engage young people in developing the digital information and communication capacities of local communities.

Recommendation 13: Empower all citizens to participate actively in community self-governance, including local “community summits” to address community affairs and pursue common goals.

Recommendation 14: Emphasize community information flow in the design and enhancement of a local community’s public spaces.

Recommendation 15: Ensure that every local community
has at least one high-quality online hub.

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