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American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy

January 16, 2018

Technological advances have made it easier for Americans to connect with each other and to find information, including details about the major issues facing the country. But those advances present both challenges and opportunities for individuals and U.S. institutions. Not only is more information readily available, but so is more misinformation, and many consumers may not be able to easily discern the difference between the two.Amid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to fulfill their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable. Results of the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy show that most Americans believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources. They believe the media continue to have a critical role in our democracy but are not very positive about how the media are fulfilling that role.The research reported here is based on a nationally representative mail survey of more than 19,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This project received support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Open Society Foundations.

Journalism, News, and Information

Mapping Digital Media: Global Findings

September 1, 2014

The Global Findings of the Mapping Digital Media project assess these and other forces affecting digital media and independent journalism worldwide. Researched and written by a team of local experts, the 56 country reports, from which these Global Findings are drawn, examine the communication and media environments in 15 of the world's 20 most populous countries, covering more than 4.5 billion of the world's population, and in 16 of the world's 20 largest economies.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Applications and Tools; Media Platforms

Social, Search and Direct: Pathways to Digital News

March 13, 2014

How someone gets to a news organization's website says a lot about the level of engagement and loyalty he or she displays toward the site and its content, according to this report. In this study of U.S. internet traffic to 26 of the most popular news websites, direct visitors -- those who type in the news outlet's specific address (URL) or have the address bookmarked -- spend much more time on that news site, view many more pages of content and come back far more often than visitors who arrive from a search engine or a Facebook referral. The data also suggest that turning social media or search eyeballs into equally dedicated readers is no easy task. These are among the key findings that detail how 1 million people enrolled in one of the nation's most popular commercial internet panels have been connecting through their desktop and laptop computers with the most accessed or shared news sites of our time.

Journalism, News, and Information

Moving the Race Conversation Forward: How the Media Covers Racism, and Other Barriers to Productive Racial Discourse, Pt. 1

January 21, 2014

This document is part 1 of 2. This report identifies and describes some of the key ways in which mainstream discourse in the United States unproductively approaches issues of race and racism. In this report, we present our expansive analysis of recent media coverage on race and racism (Section 2), and our description of Seven Harmful Racial Discourse Practices that occur not just in mainstream media, but in varied spaces where "race talk" takes place (Section 3). It also provides some everyday discourse recommendations applicable to everyone from racial and social justice advocates to media editors to leaders and members of religious groups to news consumers.

Journalism, News, and Information

Moving the Race Conversation Forward: Racial Discourse Change in Practice - Pt. 2

January 21, 2014

This document is part 2 of 2. This report provides case studies of recent interventions and initiatives advanced by the racial justice field to disrupt and supplant unproductive mainstream discussions of race and racism. The cases include a campaign entitled "Drop The I-Word," launched in September 2010 by Race Forward itself (at the time still known as the Applied Research Center). This second report also provides lessons gleaned from these interventions and initiatives, perhaps most applicable to racial and social justice advocates, but also relevant to others who are eager to respond to the dominant frames and stories that negatively impact people of color, and/or to proactively advance values and narratives that will lead our society toward a racially equitable future. These lessons are accompanied by important considerations for organizations to bear in mind when selecting spokespersons for racial equity communications. And finally, we also provide recommendations for those in philanthropy curious about current needs and opportunities to support the development of framing expertise, skills-building and collaboration.

Journalism, News, and Information

Growth in Foundation Support for Media in the United States

November 11, 2013

Over the last decade, media -- the means by which we communicate -- has evolved significantly. Television, radio, and print newspapers and magazines were once the primary means to obtain news and information. However, the rapid evolution of the Internet and mobile technology has generated new media platforms and expanded the universe of information creators, producers, and distributors. Media information once flowed in one direction, but the expansion of the field has made the movement more diffuse.With this changing landscape as a backdrop, the Foundation Center, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation, and in collaboration with Media Impact Funders, GuideStar, and the Ford Foundation, sought to provide a fuller picture of media-related grantmaking by U.S. foundations. Tracking investments from 2009 to 2011, the data reveals that foundations are increasingly supporting media-related work across multiple areas. At the same time, they are tapping into larger trends, with investments in new media growing at a faster pace than traditional media investments. However, growth in grantmaking across the spectrum of media is inconsistent -- with growth in public broadcasting falling behind growth in investments in other areas.As demand for media funding continues to rise, these gaps are the most important ones to watch -- especially considering the 2011 Federal Communications Commission report, "The Information Needs of Communities", which called for philanthropy to play a bigger role in supporting media. Since this is a baseline assessment, it will be crucial to see how media grantmaking evolves.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy; Media Applications and Tools; Media Platforms; Telecommunications Infrastructure

Finding a Foothold: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability

October 28, 2013

This report is based on a detailed analysis of 18 nonprofit news organizations between 2010 and 2012, and their progress towards sustainability. An earlier version of this document was shared with discussants at a roundtable co-hosted by Knight Foundation and the Pew Research Center on Sept. 20, 2013. The discussion included a group of thought leaders, practitioners and funders in the nonprofit news field. Insights from the discussion were used to inform this report. The report is organized into three sections that reflect areas considered essential to sustainability:Social value creation -- The ability to create unique and relevant content, and to attract, understand and engage audiences in ways that produce measurable impact.Economic value creation -- The ability to grow multiple revenue streams to support the mission of creating content, engagement and impact.Organizational capacity -- The infrastructure, resource allocation and skills that enable an organization to adapt and innovate as it creates social and economic value.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

The Role of News on Facebook: Common yet Incidental

October 24, 2013

On Facebook, the largest social media platform, news is a common but incidental experience, according to an initiative of Pew Research Center in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Overall, about half of adult Facebook users, 47%, "ever" get news there. That amounts to 30% of the population. Most U.S. adults do not go to Facebook seeking news out, the nationally representative online majority of Facebook news consumers, 78%, get news when they are on Facebook for other reasons. And just 4% say it is the most important way they get newsHowever, the survey provides evidence that Facebook exposes some people to news who otherwise might not get it. While only 38% of heavy news followers who get news on Facebook say the site is an important way they get news, that figure rises to 47% among those who follow the news less often. "

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Platforms

California Voter Consumption of Media on Government and Politics

August 12, 2013

The results of our recent survey of California voters shows that they maintain a robust interest in getting the information they need to make decisions about elections and public policy issues. The data show an electorate that remains an avid consumer of news about government and politics -- and is largely satisfied with the news it receives. Californians say that the news sources they use most often cover the issues that matter to them the most; are fair; are comprehensive; and reflect their views. And in the face of declining use of print media, the survey shows that voters in California are adopting digital media at a rapid pace -- with voters who use digital news saying that it is easier than ever to get news about government and politics at the state level. In addition, the survey paints a more detailed picture of the news habits of voters of color in California than has previously been obtained. Though California's communities of color largely use the same sources of news about government as do white voters -- primarily television and mainstream media journalism -- there are substantial subgroups that also get some of their news from ethnic media outlets. The emergence of younger voters of color as frequent digital media users indicates further potential for change in how news will be delivered to these constituencies. And even though California's voters of color express high levels of satisfaction in the news they consume, many have mixed feelings on whether their own community's views are well-represented in the media at large. In particular, African American and non-Chinese Asian American/Pacific Islander voters are the most likely to say that the views of their respective ethnic groups are not well represented in the media. The data also show that interest in news about government and politics and greater civic involvement go hand-in-hand; a majority of California voters reports active engagement in some facet of their community's civic life, with engagement concentrated among the most avid consumers of the news. While it is not surprising that these civically-engaged voters are also more likely follow the news, the survey also makes clear that voters see the news media they use as facilitating their participation. More than two-thirds of California voters report that the news source they use most often informs them about ways they can get involved.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Amid Criticism, Support for Media's 'Watchdog' Role Stands Out

August 8, 2013

Public evaluations of news organizations' performance on key measures such as accuracy, fairness and independence remain mired near all-time lows. But there is a bright spot among these otherwise gloomy ratings: broad majorities continue to say the press acts as a watchdog by preventing political leader sfrom doing things that should not be done, a view that is as widely held today as at any point over the past three decades.In the wake of revelations about government activities, including the NSA surveillance program and the IRS targeting of political groups, nearly seven-in-ten (68%) say press criticism of political leaders keeps them from doing things that should not be done, while just 21% say press criticism keeps leaders from doing their job. Support for the media's watchdog role has risen 10 points since 2011 even as other press ratings have shown little sign of improvement

Journalism, News, and Information

Facing Boundaries, Finding Freedom: An In-Depth Report on Iranian Journalists Working in Iran

August 5, 2013

Media censorship in Iran has been the focus of much international attention and concern, particularly since the state's crackdown on journalists following the 2009 elections. In the aftermath of the mass protests against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2009 presidential victory, authorities arrested and imprisoned scores of reformist and opposition journalists and bloggers, while closing dozens of opposition media outlets deemed responsible for fueling domestic unrest.These measures put a spotlight on the repressive environment in which Iranian journalists operate, and revealed the intensity of efforts by hardliners in power to thwart reformist ideas and control the diversity and flow of information to Iranian citizens. Iranian journalists faced another wave of state pressure during the 2013 election, as authorities sought to stifle any criticism of the campaign that might spark political dissent and protest. Months ahead of the June election, more than a dozen opposition journalists were arrested and numerous pro-reform print and online publications were either banned or blocked.Authorities also tightened controls over online media -- throttling Internet speeds, and filtering and blocking social media sites and domestic and international news portals -- an effort that significantly hindered access to online information and communications and weakened the role of online media as an effective campaign platform for candidates.With this report, the Annenberg School for Communication's Iran Media Program offers -- to our knowledge -- the first systematic evidence of the working environment of Iranian journalists. It addresses a critical information and research gap regarding the reporting practices of Iranian journalists, their perceptions of editorial freedoms, their ideas of what the media's role is in society, and the ways in which reporters and editors contend with Internet filtering and censorship.The fundamental aim of this study is to generate a deeper understanding of how Iranian journalists operate -- both within and despite an environment of heavy state oversight and restrictions -- as well as to broaden our perspective of the complexities of media censorship in Iran.

Journalism, News, and Information

Measuring Impact: The Art, Science and Mystery of Nonprofit News

July 23, 2013

This report seeks to answer the two-pronged question, "What is 'impact,' and how can it be measured consistently across nonprofit newsrooms?" A review of recent, relevant literature and our informal conversations with experts in the field reveal growing ambitions toward the goal of developing a common framework for assessing journalism's impact, yet few definitive conclusions about how exactly to reach that framework. This is especially the case when journalism's "impact" is defined by its ultimate social outcomes -- not merely the familiar metrics of audience reach and website traffic. As with all journalism, the frame defines the story, and audience is all-important. Defining "impact" as a social outcome proves a complicated proposition that generally evolves according to the constituency attempting to define it. Because various stakeholders have their own reasons for wanting to measure the impact of news, understanding those interests is an essential step in crafting measurement tools and interpreting the metrics they produce. Limitations of impact assessment arise from several sources: the assumptions invariably made about the product and its outcome; the divergent and overlapping categories into which nonprofit journalism falls in the digital age; and the intractable problem of attempting to quantify "quality." These formidable challenges, though, don't seem to deter people from posing and attempting to find answers to the impact question. Various models for assessing impact are continually being tinkered with, and lessons from similar efforts in other fields offer useful insight for this journalistic endeavor. And past research has pointed to specific needs and suggestions for ways to advance the effort. From all of this collective wisdom, several principles emerge as the cornerstones upon which to build a common framework for impact assessment.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

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