Report Outline

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Guiding Doc • Case study format • Rejected text

Surveying the News Media Landscape in 2008

Media Re:public Overview Paper

Executive Summary

(Old media are broken) In the United States, content creation and dissemination possibilities afforded by new technology are disrupting the scarcity-based business models of all forms of traditional media. The news media has been in flux, often in response to new technologies, and usually considered to be declining in quality, for several decades, if not permanently. However, particularly in the United States media environment, the speed and extent of the current change represents a qualitatively different challenge. The media’s ability to meet the information needs of a democracy is under threat , and all indications are the traditional media industries are failing to respond adequately. . The effects are less acute in countries with more dominant public media or lower Internet penetration, but the tendencies are the same.

(Bloggers didn’t break 'em) The rise of non-professionals critiquing, aggregating, pointing to or creating news-related content is parallel to the changes in the traditional industry; it is not the primary cause of the disruption. The new availability of professionally produced content as well as structural changes in the advertising markets have been infinitely more disruptive than the migration of audiences to non-professional content.

(Bloggers won’t fix 'em) At least not on their own. The new participatory media sphere is expanding rapidly, but without intervention will not develop the specific functions needed to fill the gaps created by the crumbling of the traditional institutions.

(There are lots of new things we can try) The networked media environment offers huge potential to engage new participants, make new connections, and use new techniques and technologies to enhance and improve every aspect of the news and information environment: reporting accuracy, depth, context, responsiveness, comprehensiveness, analysis, links to civic engagement.

(But we won’t) However, the mechanisms of the market and the non-market that currently drive investment of human and other resources are not able to take full advantage of that potential to improve the quality of civic debate and ensure that there are independent institutions able to challenge the powers that be. None of traditional media, tech companies, individuals, and most grant-making institutions have the combination of motivation, expertise and resources needed.

(Unless you help) Coordinated efforts by multiple stakeholders are needed to stimulate media projects with public service missions, regardless of their revenue model. They may be standalone, within existing media organizations or new networks of organizations and individuals.

(encourage cross-breeding to let 1000 hybrid flowers bloom) Projects should be based on cross-sector, multi-media collaboration and experimentation that builds on the expertise, resources and energy extant in traditional media institutions, technology companies, civil society, and the audience itself. Small experiments should be encouraged.

Goals for the new, improved news media

2.1 Functions (educate, inform, engage the public; challenge, investigate, monitor power structures; serve as 2-way conduit between the powerless and the powerful, support community)

2.2 Qualities (independent, timely, accurate, relevant, comprehensive, transparent = credible)

2.3 Relationship to publics (re-assessing access issues, re-defining public service)

2.4 Types of content

-- Information – i.e., various kinds of content directly from the source and/or publicly available: sports scores, stock prices, calendar of City Council meetings, state budget

-- Reporting – stories or other items created by author(s) based on gathering information from one or more sources and/or observing events

-- Analysis & deliberation – analysis, opinion, discussion

2.5 In the abundance environment, all the above are now potentially disaggregated from

-- Professional credentials

-- Any specific medium or dissemination strategy

-- Traditional advertising/subscription based media business models

-- Traditional editorial and organizational structures

-- Entertainment media

2.6 Need new mechanisms to define and meet needs of various publics

-- New measures of impact, success, responsiveness

-- New definitions of target audience

-- Facilitating participation, personalization, community

-- New feedback loops, serving both active and passive audience

The US Media System – Unique in the World

-- dominance of commercial media in news sphere

-- early entry into and dominance in global broadcasting (CNN)

-- strength of local media

-- cultural product dominance

-- predominance of English language on Internet

-- weakness of public media

-- comparatively slow uptake of technology

Implications of US exceptionalism for research and practice

-- media environment increasingly global

-- non-US insight and innovations relevant

-- potential for cross-border collaboration growing daily

-- local-global news information continuum (production and dissemination)

The rest of the world

-- role of public broadcasting in developed countries (BBC)

-- experiments by newspapers in countries with lower Internet penetration (Foelho de Sao Paulo, miPeriodico, Gazeta Wyborcza)

-- developing country issues: reverse publishing, mobile phones, radio

-- cross-border projects, Diaspora media

Mapping the News and Information Environment

6.1 A functional typology; old and new models come in different shapes

-- Publisher (classic news organization, but also new entities, e.g., Huffington Post)

-- Agency (classic, with a new position in the new environment)

-- Aggregator (an old function, with many new incarnations)

-- Author-driven (the “classic” blog)

-- Audience-centric (social media, etc.)

-- What the functional model does and doesn’t tell us

-- other institutions that produce information, and now also perform some elements of traditional news functions (think tanks, etc).

6.2 Goals (Intent? Motivation?) matter

-- Money (different if based on: mass audience, elite audience, niche audience, exclusive information, brand-building)

-- Politics

-- Self-Expression

-- Community-building

-- Public Service

Getting from what we have to what we want

7.1 Taking the best from existing traditional US models

-- gatekeepers, curators, and old-fashioned editors

-- good journalism is a team sport: the role of organization

-- professional standards and culture

-- positive effects of competition

-- reputation/brands

-- relationships with newsmakers, advertisers, community

7.2 Without the limitations

-- financial pressures on commercial media

-- expectations of commercial investment in startups

-- overly competitive environment

-- lack of flexibility in both institutions and individuals

-- cultural and structural limitations of public media

-- strictures of scarcity: comprehensive coverage, exclusivity

7.3 New, hybrid organizations will leverage the resources of existing media and the energy and innovation from the new media and technology spheres to realize the potential of networked journalism

-- getting from “do-it-yourself” to “do it together”

-- making use of existing resources rather than starting from scratch

-- using old models in new ways

-- making technology support editorial imperatives instead of the other way around

-- local/hyperlocal: community sites? Or the way newspapers will save themselves?

-- restructuring the profession of journalist, editor

-- starting from cooperation, convergence, consolidation

-- leverage international experience

-- reaching the underserved: the unwired, non-English-speaking, or otherwise disenfranchised can be served effectively

-- experiments in progress now deserving study

7.4 Why the changing roles of nonprofits matter

-- the boom in nonprofit media enterprises

-- non-media nonprofits increasingly playing media roles

-- possible roles for nonprofits in the new media sphere

-- limitations of nonprofits

7.5 Principles for intervention

-- Information-sharing, collaboration, convergence

-- Audience research

-- Realistic expectations around growth rates, audience and revenue generation

-- VC-like willingness to take risks, staged involvement

-- Small experiments supported by larger institutions

-- Networks, or federations or communities that give small editorial entities the power of larger ones (buying power, legal support, promotion, ad-sharing, etc. etc.)

7.6 Resources needed to support growth of new models

-- professional skills development

-- standardizing measurement methodologies

-- matchmaking: of journalists, techies, investors, managers, nonprofits, etc.)

-- news literacy/media activism

-- new funding mechanisms (crowdfunding, RelButton, institutional subscribers)

-- incubators/testbeds

-- international dialogue


Thematic Papers

The rest of the world

In the age of digital media, the sad place of international news in the U.S. media diet is a demand problem: the world is talking and we are holding our hands over our ears : Ethan Zuckerman

News literacy

The credential horse has left the barn forever: why news literacy is the only way to ensure credibility in the news Dan Gillmor

Initial thoughts on points to cover summarize the credibility issues explain why attempts on the supply side (certifying sites, standards of conduct, etc.) will never be enough describe existing attempts to help people find quality (newstrust, mediastandardstrust, the new transparent journalism project) characteristics of good news consumers ideas on how to promote them, even for consumers who are not producers and not particularly active

Putting the public back in public media

Are American public media institutions addressing the digital challenge in ways that truly benefit the public? If not, what can we do about it?

Author tbd

Points to cover Brief history of Carnegie commission, founding of public broadcasting Basic stats on funding of and relationship between CPB, PBS, NPR plus APM, PRI, ITVS

Editing is not over

Gatekeepers, curators, curmudgeons – why the good old-fashioned editor remains critical Tom Stites, CPI

Mass media and the blogosphere – 2gether 4ever?

John Kelly, Morningside Analytics


9.1 Typology

9.2 Case studies

9.3 Lexicon

9.4 Bibliography/linkography

9.5 Citizen media database analysis

9.6 Multimedia

9.7 (Typology of traditional media use of web 2.0) (if time allows)

9.8 (Timeline of media evolution) (if time allows)