This collection on American democracy challenges and complements blog posts and opinion pieces that are typical staples of the 24/7 news cycle in the lead up to US elections. You'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions, the role of the media in civil society, and more.

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"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0

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NewsLens 2020: How Americans Process the News

May 26, 2021

A shift toward online news consumption, combined with greater political polarization, has altered the media landscape. As part of its Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup to create NewsLens — an experimental platform and news aggregator first developed in 2017 to facilitate novel research on how people interact with the news online in a manner that offers insights to academics, technology policymakers and journalists.In theis report, Gallup examines data gathered through NewsLens during the 2020 presidential campaign to assess how much partisanship influences the way people engage with news content and whether common ground still exists over which stories are considered good journalism.

Campaigns and Elections; Media

Indicators of News Media Trust

August 6, 2020

The news media, like many other major U.S. institutions, has suffered from a decline in public confidence in recent years. A key question for the future of the news media, as well as for U.S. democracy, is whether that trust is lost for good. In this report, part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, Gallup asked a representative sample of U.S. adults to discuss key factors that make them trust, or not trust, news media organizations.

American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy

August 1, 2020

This report is based on data collected between Nov. 8, 2019, and Feb. 16, 2020, just before the novel coronavirus became a global pandemic and the burgeoning movement for racial justice swept the nation. The low levels of public trust in the nation's polarized media environment have left open the possibility for dangerous false narratives to take root in all segments of society during these emergent crises. At a time when factual, trustworthy information is especially critical to public health and the future of our democracy, the striking trends documented in these pages are cause for concern. American Views offers new insights into how the public is responding to these challenges in their own media consumption and their thoughts about how to address them.

Free Expression, Harmful Speech, and Censorship in a Digital World

June 1, 2020

The internet has brought with it seemingly unbridled opportunities for personal expression to mass audiences, thanks to social media apps like Facebook and Twitter and blog sites like Medium. However, with freedom of expression come opportunities for people to share false, offensive, harmful and even injurious content on digital platforms. As more aspects of our lives increasingly move online, we must contend with operating in a digital public square owned by private entities — one where freedom of expression falls not under the purview of the First Amendment, but under emergent standards being shaped by technology companies. Such challenges have taken on an increased urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Americans turning to social media for interaction and information and finding the platforms awash in false claims and conspiracy theories that threaten health.

Chat the Vote: How Snapchat, Amazon and Facebook Messenger Reimagined Civic Engagement in the 2016 Election

January 18, 2017

This report examines the ways in which chat platforms -- including Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Kik, LINE, Viber, Amazon Echo and others -- delivered voter information and election news, and helped people register to vote. It also explores the use of chat apps by election candidates, revealing how Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump used these platforms to attract support and encourage turnout. The report provides important lessons for journalists, media companies, technologists, civic leaders and politicians exploring new methods of leveraging technology to inform and reach voters. It also provides an early look at emerging experiments in voter engagement with a view to the future.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

Why Millennials Don't Vote for Mayor: Barriers and Motivators for Local Voting

June 4, 2015

Local elections are missing millions of millennial voters who participate in national elections but not ones in their cities. This led Knight Foundation to embark on research to explore factors that may be hampering turnout in local elections among millennials, focusing specifically on millennials who participated in the last national elections but not in their local elections. The research aims to identify the causes of low millennial voter turnout in local elections and possible approaches for encouraging more informed local voting which brings more citizen voice to local government.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation