(Aspen, CO) I am here for a conference called FOCAS: Forum on Communications and Society. The topic is how to implement the recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities. The Knight Foundation was originally endowed by newspaper magnates and retains a concern with professional journalism, which is now in dire condition. (At least one quarter of America’s paid journalists have been laid off already in the past decade.) But the Commission wisely decided to focus on the fundamental “information needs” of communities instead of the state of the news media and journalistic profession. And it adopted a hopeful tone, optimistic about fundamental innovations.
Present at FOCAS are some interesting folks. To name just a few: Julius Genachowski is chairman of the FCC; Marcus Brauchli is executive editor of The Washington Post; Alberto Ibarguen is president of the Knight Foundation; and Craig Newmark started craigslist. The heads of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, and the Public Broadcasting Corporation are all on the agenda, along with executives from News Corporation, Microsoft, E.W. Scripps Company, and NIKE, among other companies. I will be listening for ideas about how to make public broadcasting more effective, replace the traditional functions of the metropolitan daily newspaper, and help disadvantaged Americans use and create knowledge.
The meeting will stream online, with a chat function, here.