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.
Published on Feb 5, 2010