Video stories and symposium explore local information needs

Journalism / Article

What do a high school student from San Francisco, a New Hampshire state legislator, and an undocumented artist from San Jose have in common? They all discovered serious information shortages in their communities and worked to improve local information flow. They are also all a part of Ohio State University’s Knight-sponsored project, Information Stories.

This site contains a dozen video stories, each of which documents an individual’s struggle to increase information access and civic engagement in his or her community. The videos, compiled by Professor Shane and his colleague Liv Gjestvang, feature a diverse group of speakers from all over the country who champion a large range of causes. In one video, a community organizer describes her decades-long battle to bring media attention to asbestos-related disease in her town; in another, the Executive Director of Native Public Media discusses the importance of bringing universal broadband access to the Native American community. Taken together, the videos demonstrate the importance—and power—of local information, whether it is through public radio, community television, newspapers or broadband.   

In 2012 following the success of the project so far, Professor Shane and I/S:  A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society—an academic journal he helped to found at Ohio State—will host a symposium to explore further the capacity of new media to serve the information needs of communities in a democracy. Entitled “The Future of Online Journalism:  News, Community and Democracy in the Digital Age,” the Knight-sponsored symposium will take place March 29-30, 2012. Keynote speakers will include Paul Steiger, Editor-in-Chief, CEO and President of ProPublica and Steven Waldman, lead author of the recent FCC report, The Information Needs of Communities. Additionally, Knight Foundation’s Mayur Patel, Vice President of Strategy and Assessment, will participate on a panel on “Understanding and Meeting Community Information Needs.”

The Information Stories project actively addresses some of the recommendations of the Knight Commission, taking public policy strategies and translating them into everyday realities.