Community Forum Open to the Public Explores “Meeting the Public’s Information Needs in Montana”

October 20, 2008  • Institute Contributor

Contact: Erin Silliman
Aspen Institute
P: (202) 736-5818; C: (614) 286-6501

Community Forum Open to the Public Explores “Meeting the Public’s Information Needs in Montana”

Montana Leaders in Governance, Media, and Civic Activism Offer Insights to the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy


Are Montana citizens getting the information they need in order to solve community problems, coordinate civic activity, maintain public accountability, and foster the human connectedness that is the backbone of both community and democracy?

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy ( is conducting a year long study to identify the information needs of communities in a democracy, assess how and whether those needs are being met, and recommend steps to improve the fulfillment of those needs.

In addition to reviewing research on information access and trends, including media developments, new technology, and innovations in civic and government communication, the Commission is soliciting testimony from national experts and holding community forums to hear from local citizens and practitioners about the “information ecosystems” in their communities.

The Commission will issue a report in 2009 offering recommendations for achieving the news and information environment that democratic communities need in order to thrive.

This Community Forum is open for public attendance. The Roundtable contributors offering informed perspectives are listed below. To view the full agenda, click here.

  • Mark Anderlik, President, Missoula Area Central Labor Council AFL-CIO
  • Senator Jerry Black, KSEN/KZIN Radio
  • Gayla Benefield, Community Organizer, Libby
  • Luella Brien, Former Reporter, Billings Gazette
  • Tom France, Director, National Wildlife Foundation Northern Rockies Natural Resource Center
  • Linda Gray, President, Max Media of Montana
  • Mike Gulledge, Publisher, Billings Gazette
  • Joe Hansen, Big Timber News Citizen Newspaper Group
  • Ellie Hill, Executive Director, Poverello Center
  • Charles S. Johnson, Chief, Lee State Bureau
  • Patty LaPlant, Coordinator of the National Native Children’s Trauma Center, The University of Montana
  • Stephen Maly, Executive Director, Helena Civic TV
  • William Marcus, Director, Broadcast Media Center, The University of Montana
  • Ian Marquand, Special Projects Coordinator, KPAX Television
  • Sally Mauk, News Director, Montana Public Radio
  • Gary Moseman, Managing Editor, Great Falls Tribune
  • Russell Nemetz, Agriculture Director, Northern Agriculture Network
  • Ray Ring, Senior Editor, High Country News
  • Matt Singer, CEO, Forward Montana; Blogger, Left in the West
  • K’Lynn Sloan, MTV Choose or Lose Street Team ’08 MT Citizen Journalist
  • Douglas Steele, Vice President and Director of Extension, Montana State University
  • Jonathan Weber, Publisher and CEO,
  • Nadia White, Assistant Professor, University of Montana School of Journalism
  • Richard Wolff, Gilhousen Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Montana State University, Bozeman

WHEN: Saturday, October 25, 8:45AM-5PM

WHERE: The University of Montana, Missoula, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812. Campus map:

QUESTIONS: Email: or call (202) 736-5818.

WEBCAST: The meeting will be webcast live and available for future viewing on


The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is a 15-member commission assembled to recommend both public and private measures that would help American communities better meet their information needs. The Commission’s research-based approach examines the following three questions: 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?

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change. Nearly 20 years ago, the Knight Foundation created the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. That first Knight Commission has helped restore intercollegiate athletics to the control of university presidents.


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