Knight Commission Workshop on Trust, Media and Democracy

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, have established the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and American Democracy. Currently, trust in the major institutions of American democracy has fallen to troubling lows amid a rapidly changing information ecosystem. Without trust, democracy cannot function. It is, therefore, the Commission’s charge to examine the causes and consequences of a collapse in trust in democratic institutions, with a focus on trust in the media, journalism and the information ecosystem. In addition, the Commission seeks to identify the perennial and emerging values and social obligations that should guide those who produce, distribute and consume news and information to ensure a functioning democracy. To accomplish this, the August 2017 workshop will provide Commissioners and participants an opportunity for thoughtful discussion guided by a set of issue-driven white papers and readings.

The selections listed below are intended to stimulate conversation among Commissioners on the topic of trust in democratic institutions.  We ask that participants review these readings before the August workshop. The readings are not intended for public distribution.

Background Materials


Foreword, by Charlie Firestone

Section I. Democracy and Trust

Jeffrey Abramson, “Trust and Democracy,” July 2017.

Section II. Science, Technologies and Institutions of Trust

Luke Chang, “The Science of Trust,” July 2017.

Ethan Zuckerman, “Mistrust, efficacy and the new civics: Understanding the deep roots of the crisis of faith in journalism,” July 2017.

Section III. Media and Trust

danah boyd, “Addressing the Roots of Distrust,” July 2017.

Jeff Jarvis, “Before trust in media: Trust in facts, institutions and each other,” July 2017.

Mark Meckler, “The Tea Party, Born of a Media Moment, Revealed the Limitations and Lies of the Media,” July 2017.

Susan Robinson, “Journalism, Democracy & Trust: A Look Back and A Way Forward,” July 2017.

Charles Sykes, “What would bring trust to the American media?” July 2017.

Additional Workshop Materials

Download the full pdf collection of background materials

View the Workshop Agenda