Friday, October 2, 2009
The Washington Post reports today, October 2, 2009, that the John S. and James L. Foundation commissioned a report from the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. Aspen Institute studied issues of access to news information across communities, urban and rural. The study concludes that there is a hunger for information that is unmet in today's society. The study acknowledges that communities of color, the poor and rural communities have limited access to the Internet. The report also discussed the importance of newspaper sources of information, but clarifies that it is not about how to save dying metropolitan newspapers. Instead it is about how to preserve the critical functions of media in a Democracy. For the full story, please click here. An excerpt is below:
But that is the task of a high-powered commission that says, in a report being released Friday, that the country's growing hunger for information is "being met unequally, community by community." The elaborately named Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy raises the specter of two Americas -- one wired, the other not so much.
Citing estimates that more than one-third of the country has no broadband connection to the Internet, "that's a hell of a lot of Americans who don't have access to the way we're communicating," says Alberto Ibarg?en, president of the Knight Foundation, which commissioned the year-long study with the Aspen Institute. "When an urban kid who wants a job at McDonald's or Wal-Mart has to apply online, if you don't have digital access, you can't apply."
The panel, co-chaired by former solicitor general Theodore Olson and Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, pays tribute to the importance of newspapers as "the primary source of fair, accurate and independent news" in many cities. But the report pointedly fails to offer a strategy for survival, saying "the challenge is not to preserve any particular medium or any individual business." Instead, it focuses on promoting "the traditional public service functions of journalism," in whatever form.
Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute and a former Time managing editor, says the report's focus is "not how do you save dying metropolitan newspapers. There's a wariness to assume that the old institutions should be preserved just for their own sake." He says the challenge is "coming up with a way that people who provide good and relevant information can pay their mortgage and put food on their table."