Friday, October 02, 2009

Lack of broadband an obstacle to democracy, especially in rural areas, Knight Commission finds

The lack of broadband adoption and access among rural and older Americans is a major problem for our republic, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy says in a report today.

With one-third of the nation lacking broadband, "That's a hell of a lot of Americans who don't have access to the way we're communicating," Alberto Ibargüen, right, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, told news-media reporter Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post. The foundation, created by brothers who owned newspapers, commissioned the study with the Aspen Institute. For Kurtz's story, click here. (Post photo by Linda Davidson)

In addition to a "broadband gap," the study also identifies a "literacy gap" and a "participation gap" among younger, poorer and more rural Americans. "These threaten to create a two-tiered society with limited democratic possibilities for too many individuals and communities," it says. For the commission's press release, click here. Here is a PDF of the 148-page study. Here is a one-page summary.

The report offers 15 policies to help Americans meet their needs for information about their communities, but those do not include a formula to help newspapers. "The challenge is not to preserve any particular medium or any individual business," it says, calling for emphasis on preserving "the traditional public-service functions of journalism."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's just another example of how policy makers in Washington and corporate America not only ignore rural America, but have little knowledge of rural America. We have people moving into Central Missouri who have never driven on an unpaved road, until they moved.