The Report of The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
The Commission recommends:
Recommendation 11: Expand local media initiatives to reflect the full reality of the communities they represent.
Media institutions, old and new, will inevitably continue to be major players in the information networks serving local communities. As democratic institutions, they can serve their communities most effectively, however, if they reflect and help give voice to all segments of the public in the way news is gathered, analyzed, and shared. Mainstream media have an unusual capacity to foster the “bridging capital” that is critical to community welfare. This may be especially critical where communities are fragmented along social, economic, or political lines. Local media have the unique potential to enable citizens to see how life looks from the perspectives of multiple groups and to engage people in conversation across group lines. Access to credible and knowledgeable sources from all segments of the community will be easier for newsrooms whose journalists are connected to all of a community’s ethnic, social, economic, and political subnetworks. If any segment of the community is unrepresented among the people who do the work of journalism, the accuracy and credibility of that journalism suffers. Conversely, a news organization’s commitment to represent the entire community can help overcome the sense of social exclusion that exists in many communities and discourages engagement. Just as the diversity of a newsroom can bridge across a community’s various constituencies, so can and should diversity in a community’s media ownership. Achieving diversity in the ownership of mainstream print and broadcast media has proved a difficult challenge. Communities would benefit if the evolution of new media provided significant opportunities for minorities and other underrepresented groups to achieve a substantial ownership stake in the news and information sector.
Published on Feb 5, 2010