Evolving our news information ecosystems
Democracy depends on a well-informed citizenry that holds its elected representatives accountable for their actions. To obtain this outcome, three conditions must be met: (1) Citizens must have access to and consume accurate, reliable information about the world; (2) Citizens must use this information to inform their understanding and opinions; and (3) Citizens must act upon their understanding to influence policies and party platforms.
Numerous studies have raised troubling suggestions about our information pipeline—for example, that it is widely contaminated by fake or misleading news, that consumers are being algorithmically sorted, or are self-selecting, into partisan echo chambers, or that a large percentage of citizens are insufficiently engaged to have any views at all. Generally these studies have depended on small, one-off data collection efforts that fail to cohere into a complete picture. A major obstacle to improving the information ecosystem is the absence of a comprehensive, longitudinal picture of the production, consumption, and absorption of news.