Via PJNet.org, last week the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Aspen Institute announced that they are funding a $2.3 million study to see if citizens are being provided the information they need in order to participate in a democracy. The goal is to find out is the information needs of communities is being met and to recommend solutions if they are not. According to the Knight Foundation press release:
“The business models we’ve relied on to provide news and information to our communities are stressed and changing. New platforms offer an astounding array of choices, creating the most connected world we have ever known with the greatest volume of available data,” said (Alberto) Ibargüen (Knight Foundation president and CEO), a longtime newspaper executive and former PBS chairman who also chairs the Newseum board. “But as those choices proliferate and as those virtual communities connect us globally, the need for local, reliable, contextual civic information remains and, I believe, is being met less and less effectively.”
I think this is long overdue. The need for transparency in government isn’t just about getting the powers that be to open up, but to also make that information readily available to citizens so they can use it to keep tabs on their representatives. It will be interesting to see what information people feel they need and how they are receiving it. Needless to say, I look forward to the results of this study.