Mapping Media Ecosystems—From the Hyperlocal to the Global
Preconference speaker Tom Glaisyer will be presenting highlights from the United States portion of the global Mapping Digital Media project; here he provides some background on how the research team he led as a Knight Media Policy Fellow at the New America Foundation contributed to the analysis.
During the last 18 months, the Knight Media Policy initiative has sought to formulate policy and regulatory reforms to foster the development of a healthy media that satisfies the needs of democracy in the 21st century.
This work has sought to build upon the The Knight Commission Report, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age.
Collaboratively MPI’s fellows and staff have researched, analyzed, and promoted policies that are committed to maximizing the public interest potential of innovative media, supported by partnerships with communities, researchers, industry, and public interest groups. Very specifically, the initiative has focused on responding to the opportunity presented by the FCC’s Future of Media Inquiry that has sought to gather views around media policy to inform the FCC and other government agencies. The output has included reports available here, and formal comments to the agencies available here.
In a deliberate fashion, MPI researchers have sought to understand media ecosystems. This has occurred at three levels:
(a) The national level
(c) the hyperlocal level, where researchers affiliated with our project have undertaken research in in Columbia Heights in Washington D.C., and in Mebane, Siler City, Apex, and Garner. North Carolina.
All of this research, interesting as it is in the abstract, has been done with the mindset that it should provide value to a policymaking process. Here is what we’ve learned:
Lessons about the substance:
- The ecosystems in which media is produced, distributed and travels is extremely complex.
- No locale has fully adapted to digital media.
- Ecosystems across the country are diverging from each other as new entrants enter the market and take on roles previously held by incumbents.
Process lessons from local case studies
- Clearly defining the scope is important. Our case studies focused on the institutions of news and information in the communities we studied. We looked at particular stories only inasmuch as they illustrated a point and content analysis was done in a limited fashion in one case study only.
- Significant value comes from comparative analysis.
- They can be used in multiple contexts. They were compiled with a federal government audience in mind, but were found to be useful to prompt conversations at a local level. They can play a useful role in bringing media players together.
Our research has also informed other efforts to map local ecosystems, such as the Knight Foundation’s Community Information Toolkit.
Overall, we have found the work very informative, and something that has provided persuasive insights that have informed the national level media mapping project we are in the process of completing for the Open Society Foundation’s 60-country Mapping Digital Media project.
Tom Glaisyer coordinates the Media Policy Program at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. A Ph.D. candidate from Columbia University’s School of Journalism, he has focused on the interplay between media and political processes and institutions. Before joining New America he acted as a consultant and analyst leveraging online platforms for knowledge management as well as for building and sustaining advocacy networks. He holds a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and Economics from the University of Birmingham in England, and has passed the qualifying exams of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
- — 5 notes