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Knight Foundation To Present On Keeping Democracy Alive, Thriving

Two former FCC chairman are preparing to advise the current chairman and others on keeping Democracy alive and thriving by meeting its "community information needs"

Translation: How to keep local news afloat when a foundering economy runs into a sea change in news delivery and access.

Former FCC Chairmen Reed Hundt and Michael Powell are both members of the Knight Foundation/Aspen Institute Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy (a 17-member commission), which is scheduled to present a 15-point proposal Friday to various top government officials.

The recommendations will be presented to a number of officials including current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who is slated to comment on them at their unveiling at the Newseum in D.C., as well as U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and NTIA head Larry Strickling.

The FCC is planning an inquiry into the health of the news business, though Genachowski has set no timetable for the effort, which was proposed by his predecessor, Michael Copps.

Also getting a copy is CPB Board Chairman Ernest J. Wilson. Wilson, who was just elected chairman two weeks ago, told B&C in an interview he thought CPB was ideally positioned to help fill what he saw as a community media gap.

"At a time when the legacy print media is literally disappearing before our eyes, and the legacy broadcast media is cutting back on investigative reporting and long-form reporting, now is a tremendous opportunity—and I would say obligation—for public service media to help fill that gap, especially at the local level," Wilson told B&C.

The recommendations are the result of seven public forums and meetings, plus input from the public via the PBS Engage Web initiative.