And FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein will be one of if not the lead panelists at the Annual Aspen Institute Forum on Communications and Society discussion of the role of the media in a democracy. What should citizens expect in the way of information, and what are the responsibilities of the media, public institutions and citizens themselves? The session is pegged for 8/9-10/08. It will focus on three main issues: “What are the information needs of communities in our American democracy? What are the current trends affecting how community information needs are met? And what changes will ensure that community information needs will be better met in the future?”
Also appearing will be Madeleine Albright, Principal, The Albright Group; John Carroll, Former Editor Los Angeles Times; Reed Hundt, Former FCC Chairman; Alberto Ibargüen, President, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Henry Jenkins, Director, Comparative Media Studies and Professor, MIT; Paula Kerger, President, Public Broadcasting Service; Michael Lomax, CEO, United Negro College Fund; Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Google; Craig Newmark, Founder, Craigslist; Theodore B. Olson, Former Solicitor General of the United States; Philip Rosedale, Founder, Second Life; and William Dean Singleton, Vice Chairman & CEO, MediaNews Group.
RBR/TVBR observation: The media, generally, does have an obligation to actively participate in our democracy. The greatest media outlets do so in an exemplary manner, which is one of the key components of their greatness. But it is a fact of life in the US that performing this vital function is at the same time a business proposition and not all outlets can afford to engage in intense news coverage; and at the same time, media outlets are protected by the very freedoms that make our democracy possible. So we hope that chin-stroking sessions such as this one focus on ways to encourage outstanding local journalism rather than compelling it, for the simple reason that the latter option is both impractical and unconstitutional.