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Fostering Information Ecosystems with Info Districts

Simon Galperin recently shared this article with us on info districts, “Towards a public choice for local news and information” and we wanted to lift it up here on the blog. The piece includes an excerpt from the full Info District report and “this guide — published thanks to support from the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri’s Missouri School of Journalism — outlines what a democratic process could look like if it was targeted at understanding a community’s information needs and mobilizing collective action to meet them”. You can read the article below and find the original version on Medium here.


Towards a public choice for local news and information

Information is power. But decisions about how information gets discovered, shared, and used are made by those already in power. In most places, the people who are most in need of information have little say in those decisions. Info districts is a proposal to change that.

The Community Information Cooperative’s “How to Launch an Info District” report is intended for people who want to organize their communities to change how decisions are made about what news and information gets produced, how it’s distributed, and — most importantly — why.

Social media platforms and the majority of our news media exist for profit. The products and services they provide maximize the extraction of information and wealth from our communities. Mission-driven news organizations and public institutions exist for our benefit but most resemble for-profit corporations in their decision making. Foundational issues are decided on by a handful of people usually far removed from the impact of their decisions.

If news and information is what fuels democracy then it should be guided by democracy.

For the Community Info Coop, the process is the product. We believe you cannot have a democratic outcome without a democratic process. This guide — published thanks to support from the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri’s Missouri School of Journalism — outlines what a democratic process could look like if it was targeted at understanding a community’s information needs and mobilizing collective action to meet them.

We do this work because we believe that news and information is a public good. We believe information ecosystems can empower people instead of scare and profit from them.

Redesigning those systems to improve the way we communicate with each other and hold our institutions accountable is an international project. Platforms, governments, foundations, media organizations, and technology companies require democratization if we are to sustain and expand democracy in the 21st century.

It is an imperfect project. And one without end. But it cannot be done without a local effort leading and sustaining the change. Info districts are one part of that effort.

We’ll return to “How to Launch an Info District” as we continue our work. We’ll add new resources, share new findings, and make it more practical.

The following is an excerpt from the guide to introduce you to the the info districts concept. For more detail, read the full guide here.

To support the development of this new vision for public media, reach us at connect@infodistricts.org. We’re actively seeking financial and coordinating support. To follow our work, subscribe to our newsletter here.

Keiva Hummel
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies.

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