Creating Technology for Social Change

Plenary: “News, Nerds and Nabes”: How Will Future Americans Learn About the Local?


Alberto Ibarguen, Eric Klinenberg, and Henry Jenkins

The current crisis in American journalism threatens the very survival of local newspapers, even as we’ve already seen a sharp decline in local radio and television content. More and more of us find community through social networks which are largely indifferent to geographic considerations. But the American political system is intensely local, and policy debates about issues that affect our daily lives (schools, jobs, sprawl, and the environment, to name a few) remain fiercely connected to our cities and hometowns. So, what will be the place of the local in American journalism or for that matter, in American culture in the years ahead? What steps can or should be taken to ensure that we have the information we need about local concerns? Will we know enough to be able to vote in local elections or to weigh in on policy concerns that hit us where we live? What roles might citizen journalism and civic media play in cementing the social connections that hold local communities together?

These and related questions will be explored by panelists Alberto Ibarg├╝en, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology at New York University and author of Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media; and Henry Jenkins, co-principal investigator for the Center for Future Civic Media and author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide.