Media and Democracy in the Digital Age – Knight Foundation

Media and Democracy in the Digital Age

Related Staff

VP/Learning and Impact
Senior Director/Media and Democracy
Director/Media and Democracy

The internet and social media are fixtures in American social and civic life. These digital networks have dramatically expanded our access to information and ideas, amplified millions of marginalized voices and bolstered democratic movements in the U.S. and around the world. The rapid pace of development of more novel technologies, like generative AI, and the potential risks associated with them have prompted widespread calls for reforms in the design and governance of our online spaces for information exchange.

To address these questions, our society requires new kinds of expertise and collaboration across social science, data science, computer science, humanities, journalism and the law. The demand for independent research and insight continues to grow as policymakers and industry leaders consider interventions—from regulatory reform to design and product modifications—to maximize the opportunities and resolve the challenges that accompany the quickening evolutions of digital media and information technologies.

As of May 2023, Knight Foundation has committed more than $94 million to bolster a growing field of research that can inform policy and the design of digital services as well as facilitate public debate about information technologies in our society. Knight Foundation’s initial investments led to the formation of the Knight Research Network, and has helped to build an important part of our nation’s intellectual infrastructure. Knight Foundation’s most recent investments, including the establishment of the Knight–Georgetown Institute, seek to ensure that policymakers and key leaders in industry and civil society are informed by independent, nonpartisan research, and that new legal and policy frameworks advance fundamental democratic values and protect the common good.

What we Fund

At Knight Foundation, we understand that media and technology are critical components of our democracy. We recognize that the growth of a digital public sphere includes both possibilities and challenges as it connects people with information and each other. To improve our understanding of how society is informed and engaged in this evolving landscape, we invest in independent scholarship and policy insight.

Our goal is to support the integrity of the complex information environment in which we live. We believe that policymakers, industry leaders, journalists, civil society, and the public should have access to nonpartisan research that can inform the design and governance of our online spaces for information exchange. By investing in independent research and scholarship, we aim to ensure that our collective understanding of this landscape is grounded in evidence and best practices, and that we can all work together to strengthen our democracy.

Acceleration of Research: We invest in independent scholarship to inform media and technology policy with evidence-based insights and new frameworks that advance democratic values.

Building a Diverse Network of Experts: We invest to foster collaboration and debate by providing a diverse array of experts with opportunities to share and exchange knowledge.

Connecting Research to Nonpartisan Policy Impact: With a nonpartisan ethos, we invest in translating research to actionable insights for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists and the public. 

Knight Research Network

The Knight Research Network (KRN) is a community of scholars, technologists, and policy experts whose work explores the changing media and information landscape in the context of our democracy . Since 2019, KRN affiliates, representing over 60 institutions, have helped shape and inform our public dialogue on technology through hundreds of publications, media appearances, and public testimony before legislative and regulatory bodies.