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Decoding the Net Neutrality Debate: Media, Public Comment and Advocacy on the Open Internet

December 19, 2014

The debate over regulation of the Internet may be one of the most important of our day. Companies that have invested billions in Internet infrastructure contend that they need the ability to manage their networks, prioritizing some content over others to maintain service, and charging for higher speeds. Advocates of net neutrality see the Internet as a utility, essential for individual learning, working, civic participation and free expression, as well as economic competition and innovation -- too important to have fast lanes and slow lanes, with the fastest speeds going to the highest bidder.The debate intensified this year, when the Federal Communications Commission invited public comment on new proposed regulations that stop short of the standards demanded by net neutrality advocates. The call elicited 3.7 million comments, as well as a storm of debate on Twitter and an avalanche of press coverage. Subsequently, President Barack Obama aligned with net neutrality supporters,but the new rules remain to be written. The technical complexity of Internet regulation, and lack of direct historical precedent, make it difficult to engage the public in an informed debate and develop regulations that will remain effective over time. To tackle these challenges, both policymakers and citizens need to better understand public opinion, amid a torrent of organized advocacy from both sides. Knight Foundation partnered with Quid, a data analytics firm, to separate the signal from the noise.

Media Access and Policy

Life After Youth Media: Insights about Program Influence into Adulthood

April 29, 2014

* Do the skills, attitudes, and behaviors imparted in youth programs "stick" into adulthood?* If they do, how do they manifest in career, education, and life decisions?* How do the skills, attitudes, and behaviors that youth programs try to impart differ based on program intensity or levels of engagement?* Do these elements look different for people who went through youth media programs versus people who went through other types of youth programs?These are common questions that youth program providers, funders, public officials, and other leading thinkers regularly wrestle with. This report tells the story of a group in Chicago committed to providing quality youth media programming in the city and how, through a collective evaluation, they were able to begin to answer these critical questions.

Media Access and Policy

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 Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship: How Chinese Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets around the World

October 22, 2013

Since coming to power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has constructed a multi-layered system for censoring unwanted news and stifling opposing viewpoints within China. Over the past two decades, this domestic apparatus has spawned mechanisms that extend information controls to media outlets based outside China. This study provides a survey of this phenomenon, finding that over the past five years, its nature and scope have intensified and expanded. In many cases, Chinese officials directly impede independent reporting by media based abroad. However, more prevalent -- and often more effective -- are methods of control that subtly induce self-censorship or inspire media owners, advertisers, and other international actors to take action on the CCP's behalf. These efforts -- ranging from discreet to blatant -- are successful in some cases, and encounter significant pushback in others, with journalists and activists at times scoring important victories. But whatever the outcome of each contestation, the "China Factor" is palpably present, be it at the internationally renowned Washington Post, a local newspaper in Nepal, or a Chinese radio talk show in Los Angeles.This report was authored by Freedom House researcher Sarah Cook and published by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 22, 2013. Combining case studies, interviews, and original analysis, its chapters focus on six types of media outlets based outside mainland China that together reach news consumers worldwide: major international media; local outlets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; mainstream media in Hong Kong and Taiwan; exile Chinese outlets providing uncensored news to people in China; and media serving Chinese diaspora communities around the world.

Media Access and Policy

The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak Investigations and Surveillance in Post-9/11 America

October 10, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.

Media Access and Policy

Freedom on the Net 2013

October 3, 2013

Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

Media Access and Policy

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

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

Throttling Dissent: China's New Leaders Refine Internet Control

July 2, 2013

This special report is based on the 2013 China chapter of Freedom House's annual Freedom on the Net survey. Freedom on the Net is a comparative analysis of internet freedom with a unique methodology, and includes a detailed narrative report and a numerical score for each country assessed.China's numerical score will be published as part of the full report. However, as the home of one of the most systematically controlled and monitored online environments in the world, it will no doubt retain its place among countries where Freedom House categorizes the internet as Not Free. As the Freedom on the Net 2012 survey noted, China increasingly serves as an incubator for sophisticated new types of internet restrictions, providing a model for other authoritarian countries.For this reason, Freedom House is publishing the 2013 China narrative as a special report, examining key developments during the Freedom on the Net coverage period (May 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013) in the context of the recent leadership change in the Chinese Communist Party. Like all Freedom on the Net narratives, the report offers a comprehensive examination of three aspects of internet freedom:Obstacles to AccessLimits on ContentViolations of User Rights

Media Access and Policy

Nonprofit Journalism: A Growing but Fragile Part of the U.S. News System

June 10, 2013

The growing nonprofit news sector is showing some signs of economic health, and most leaders of those outlets express optimism about the future, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. But many of these organizations also face substantial challenges to their long-term financial well-being.The report finds that large, often one-time seed grants from foundations help many of these nonprofit news outlets get up and running. But as those grants expire, many organizations do not have the resources or expertise necessary for the business tasks needed to broaden the funding base. More than half ofthe nonprofit news organizations surveyed by the Pew Research Centerin late 2012 (54%) identified business, marketing and fundraising as the area of greatest staffing need, compared with 39% who said the top need was for more editorial employees. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the nonprofits (62%) cited "finding the time to focus on the business side of the operation" as a major challenge -- compared with 55% who cited "increasing competition for grant money."

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

May 21, 2013

Teens share a wide range of information about themselves on social media sites; indeed the sites themselves are designed to encourage the sharing of information and the expansion of networks. However, few teens embrace a fully public approach to social media. Instead, they take an array of steps to restrict and prune their profiles, and their patterns of reputation management on social media vary greatly according to their gender and network size.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

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