Information Needs of Communities

The UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication has released a report that recommends multiple new ways to help meet the information needs of communities. The report comes after the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy convened 50 media scholars, professionals, attorneys and community leaders for a Jan. 20 workshop that examined how Internet, cable television, satellite television and mobile broadband service providers could help promote local accountability journalism in North Carolina and the nation.

Download and read the report.

Roundtable discussions at the workshop identified the gaps in accountability journalism in North Carolina, the causes of the gaps and the opportunities they present. Participants discussed whether and how service providers or others could help to fill those gaps.

One consensus item documented in the report is need for a statewide, online C-SPAN in North Carolina.

The report will be incorporated into a set of recommendations to be issued jointly by the deans of top journalism programs participating in the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. The deans of the Carnegie-Knight schools will meet June 19-20 in Boston.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation underwrote the UNC workshop and report with a $20,000 grant to the media law center, a partnership between the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the UNC School of Law.

The workshop came in response to the 2011 Federal Communications Commission “Information Needs of Communities” report that identified the loss of newsroom positions in recent years as a threat to the quality of civic information available in communities around the nation. Steve Waldman, who authored the FCC report, participated in the workshop.

The FCC report documents the effects of the digital revolution on local, professional, accountability reporting. One effect has been the loss of 13,400 newspaper newsroom positions in four years. The report argues that the loss of those workers is likely to result in government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools and other serious community problems.

The workshop was one of 11 conducted at leading universities, in an effort to increase the impact of the FCC’s report, the most comprehensive look at media policy in a generation. The Knight Foundation and Carnegie Corp. of New York are dedicating more than $800,000 to help implement the report’s recommendations.

Download .mp3 files of all workshop sessions.

Or listen to individual sessions:

Welcome and Introduction
Susan King, Dean, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
UNC Center for Media Law and Policy co-directors:
Cathy Packer, professor, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
David Ardia, assistant professor, UNC School of Law

Q&A with James Hamilton and Steven Waldman
James Hamilton, Charles S. Sydnor Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Steven Waldman, former journalist, entrepreneur, bureaucrat and senior adviser to chairman of the FCC

Panel 1: Gaps and opportunities in accountability journalism
Led by:
Penny Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Ferrel Guillory, professor of the practice, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Fiona Morgan, associate in research, DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, Duke University
Sarah Cohen, Knight Professor of the Practice, Duke University
Alan Mason, vice president and general manager, News 14
Rick Thames, editor, Charlotte Observer

Panel 2: How Internet, cable, satellite and mobile broadband providers can support local accountability journalism
Led by:
David Ardia
Michelle Connolly, associate professor, economics department, Duke University
Mark Prak, partner, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard
Blair Levin, communications and society fellow, Aspen Institute

Lunch presentation
Tom Stites, founder and president, Banyan Project

Roundtable discussion of policy proposals
Led by:
Michael Gerhardt, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law, UNC School of Law


As a followup to the workshops, the Knight Foundation produced the following video:

Comments are closed.