To achieve this vision, the Commission believes that the nation and its local communities need to pursue three ambitious objectives: Maximize the availability of relevant and credible information to all Americans and their communities; Strengthen the capacity of individuals to engage with information; and
Promote individual engagement with information and the public life of the community.
The Commission might well have reached these conclusions even without the economic downturn of 2008. Public testimony before the Commission showed the nationâ€™s vast information needs are being met unequally, community by community. Some populations have access to local news and other relevant information through daily newspapers, radio and television broadcasts, local cable news channels, hyper-local Web sites, blogs, mobile alerts, and services that connect to police reports and other sources of local information. Others are woefully underserved. Key democratic institutions are under obvious stressâ€”public service journalism perhaps most of all. Access to news and information is critical to democracy. Journalists serve as watchdogs over public officials and institutions, as well as over the private and corporate sector. They provide information for citizens to run their lives, their communities, and their country. News organizations also foster civic understanding, engagement, and cohesion. When they work well, they help make communities open, officials accountable and publics engaged. For over a decade, many local news institutions have been in crisis from financial, technological and behavioral changes taking place in our society. Before the recession, many newspapers were facing falling subscriptions and declining advertising revenue. With the crash of 2008, they are struggling even more.
The Report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy