I think universities with communications programs are especially well positioned to help address one of the 15 needs cited by the Knight Commission report, specifically:
Recommendation 7: Fund and support public libraries and other community institutions (my emphasis) as centers of digital and media training, especially for adults.Our college is a community institution, right?
One of the ideas that's been in the back of my mind for a while that would articulate this recommendation is using the school's resources to help local citizens learn more about being news providers with some sort of workshop or seminar.
I could see it taking shape as a day or day-and-a-half event, consisting of a combination of lecture, exercises, small-group and large-group discussion of issues in the emerging news ecosystem, followed by break-out workshops on principles of basic journalism and skills development for writing and multimedia. We have faculty, staff and even student expertise in these areas plus a core of alumni who are working professionals who might be involved as guest presenters. We have the facilities, including classrooms, computer labs, large and small meeting spaces, and on-campus catering capability for meals or snacks.
Or, more formally, it could be done as a certificate program for non-matriculated students who could take some combination of our traditional (or non-traditional, e.g. online) courses on topics such as journalism basics, multimedia journalism, Web design, digital video production, and desktop publishing.
All the potential is there. Finding the human and financial resources to act on it is the next step.
UPDATE (Saturday Feb. 18) : Courtney Shove has created a roundup summary with links to all of the posts in this month's carnival. Check it out.