New York The nation needs to give the same urgency to making sure all Americans have broadband access as the Eisenhower administration did in building an interstate highway system a half-century ago, a report released today concluded.
The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy expressed worry about whether the news industry’s financial woes will make for a less educated citizenry and considered whether the government should prop up independent journalists.
The commission includes two former FCC chairmen, newspaper publishers, a top Google executive, the NAACP president and a former CNN president. It concluded that a free flow of information “is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools and public health,” and that it’s time for leaders to give it a higher priority.
It drew parallels to both the Eisenhower administration’s building of roads and the Lincoln administration’s effort to build the transcontinental railroad.
Considering how much business is done on the Web, including the process of applying for jobs, it’s vital to get as many people plugged in as possible, the commission said. More than a third of Americans do not subscribe to broadband services and, in many rural communities, they don’t even have the option.