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Independent Media in a Small Town 2011-2012

May 3, 2013

This study is part of a larger project on the role of local (independent) press in the development of civil society in small cities. In 2007, a series of research was done in the towns of Dobryanka, Tchaikovsky, Zheleznogorsk, Serpukhov, Kachkanar and Kudymkar.As part of this first phase of our research project, we studied factors and functional conditions that drive the need for the existence of independent media and ensure their independence. Field work was mainly carried out in 2011and completed at the end of 2012. In 2011, the survey covered the towns of Berdsk, Novoaltaisk, Sarapul, Serov, Dubna and Zhukovsky. In 2012, further interviews were conducted in Zhukovsky with representatives of different social groups and the editorial staff of the newspaper "Zhukovskiye news" .For several reasons, this report is completed at the end of 2012. This time was full of political events and changes in the political climate of the country. Therefore, part of the observations of this work have lost their political relevance, but retain sociological interest.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Mapping Digital Media: Georgia

July 1, 2012

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Digitization in Georgia has two speeds: there are plentiful examples of the swift adoption and innovative use of digital media, but just as abundant is the evidence of procrastination and reluctance to embrace new opportunities. It also presents two faces: a free and dynamic online environment and a heavily government controlled offline world. These contradictions have a direct impact on the overall news offer and on media consumption patterns.This report finds that the momentous change in ownership transparency regulation and the dynamic and free online environment are the most notable success stories since 2005. Yet these achievements are overshadowed by the lack of independence of the broadcasting regulator and the public broadcaster, as well as the slow pace of digital transition.In order to promote positive change, three kinds of reform need to be undertaken. First, the process of drafting the legal framework for digital switch-over must be made transparent and show results in the near future if the country is to be ready for the transition before the switch-off date in 2015. The public interest provisions, must-carry rules, and transparent spectrum allocation and gatekeeping should be given priority. Second, with public awareness of the purpose and implications of switch-over virtually non-existent, an information campaign and public debate need to start without delay.Finally, the independence of two key institutions, the Georgian National Communications Commission and the Georgian Public Broadcaster, needs to be strengthened.  In both cases, this can be done by adopting clearer regulatory safeguards against government interference, enforcing transparency, and ensuring civil society participation in selection procedures.

Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere

March 2, 2012

This paper summarizes the major findings of a three-year research project to investigate the Internet's impact on Russian politics, media and society. We employed multiple methods to study online activity: the mapping and study of the structure, communities and content of the blogosphere; an analogous mapping and study of Twitter; content analysis of different media sources using automated and human-based evaluation approaches; and a survey of bloggers; augmented by infrastructure mapping, interviews and background research. We find the emergence of a vibrant and diverse networked public sphere that constitutes an independent alternative to the more tightly controlled offline media and political space, as well as the growing use of digital platforms in social mobilization and civic action. Despite various indirect efforts to shape cyberspace into an environment that is friendlier towards the government, we find that the Russian Internet remains generally open and free, although the current degree of Internet freedom is in no way a prediction of the future of this contested space.

Media Access and Policy

Mapping Digital Media: Russia

September 23, 2011

Examines trends in Russia's media system, including media consumption, media ownership, the use of television as an organ of executive power, and the effect of digital media on freedom of speech, pluralism, civic participation, and news quality.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

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