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Tag Archive: Information

Knight Foundation Seek to Find Out What People Want to Know

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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.

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Turkey Sandwiches, Ron Paul, and Internet Democracy

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In July 2003 Vice President Dick Cheney was in Columbia, South Carolina for a fancy sit-down lunch with 150 big-money donors willing to kick in the maximum $2,000 to the reelection campaign of Cheney and President George W. Bush. Dick Cheney was to raise $250,000 from this exclusive group of black-tie diners in one afternoon. This would be an ordinary event for any campaign and lost in the pages of history, but this fundraiser is remembered for another reason. And that reason can best be symbolized in the form of a turkey sandwich.

Prior to the Cheney fundraiser, supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean were gathered online at the Dean’s Blog for America trying to figure out ways that the campaign could continue its small donor driven campaign fundraising success. One idea floated about was for the campaign to try and match the Cheney fundraiser dollar-for-dollar in online donations. The day of Cheney’s fundraiser the campaign posted a picture of Dean, eating a turkey sandwich while blogging, on their site asking supporters to chip in what they could to match the black-tie Cheney event. By 12:30 the next day the campaign had raised over $500,000, or twice as much as the Cheney event netted.

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Global Warming Committee Brings Public into the Committee Room

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Update: You can watch Markey ask a question from the online community here and here

More and more members of Congress are using the Web to reach out to public constituencies to bring them into the processes in Congress. We saw this back in August when Sen. Dick Durbin went to the blog OpenLeft to discuss crafting a national broadband bill with members of the public. Yesterday, Rep. Ed Markey, the chairman of the Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, posted a diary on the blog Daily Kos soliciting questions and concerns from the community to be used in a committee hearing on the California wild fires today.

By adding a public element to the hearing the committee was able to create buzz in the environmental community and further open committee operations, which are the backbone of legislative activity, to the public. This will hopefully become a more regular activity among committee chairs and other members as they seek to use the Web to bring thoughtful and intelligent members of the general public in to help provide information outside of the normal think tank/lobbyist channels.

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