Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age

Publication Date September 1, 2009


In April 2008, recognizing that technology is changing attitudes toward information in fundamental ways, Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute formed the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The purpose of the Commission was to examine the information needs of American communities in the digital age and to suggest recommendations to strengthen the free flow of information.

This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Knight Commission. Through public outreach, the commission garnered input from over 1,100 people online. In addition, experts and community members shared insights at public forums, where the commission pondered questions such as:

  • What are the information needs of a community in a democracy?
  • How is technology affecting the information needs of democracy in the United States?
  • What public policy directions would help lead us from where we are today to where we ought to be? Report Partner: This report was produced by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.



Knight Commission’s articulation of community information needs and the critical steps necessary to meet them requires pursuing three fundamental objectives:

  • Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information to Communities: People need relevant and credible information to be free and self-governing.
  • Enhancing the Capacity of Individuals to Engage with Information: People need tools, skills and understanding to use information effectively.
  • Promoting Public Engagement: To pursue their true interests, people need to be engaged with information and with each other. The commission’s conclusions and recommendations follow each objective.

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