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Local Journalism in Crisis: Why America Must Revive Its Local Newsrooms

November 12, 2019

Thousands of local newspapers have closed in recent years. Their disappearance has left millions of Americans without a vital source of local news and deprived communities of an institution essential for exposing wrongdoing and encouraging civic engagement. Of those still surviving, many have laid off reporters, reduced coverage, and pulled back circulation.

Civic Media Practice

February 9, 2018

This report, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, provides a four-part framework for measuring the progress of civic media—network building, holding space for discussion, distributing ownership and persistent input. It offers recommendations for funders and practitioners alike, including the recommendation that funders adequately fund impact evaluation by "build[ing] capacity of grantees to use qualitative evaluation frameworks and hold[ing] them accountable for regular updates."

Mapping the Intersection of Two Cultures: Interactive Documentary and Digital Journalism

November 19, 2015

The convergence of digital journalism and interactive and participatory documentary, two forms at the defining edges of their respective fields, is the focus of this report. Why interactive and participatory documentary? Because these immersive, visual and, above all, experimental narratives have developed rapidly over the past few years, offering wide-ranging examples for journalists who seek to reach new audiences, to enhance the relevance of their reporting for an informed, engaged citizenry, and to make better use of the interactive and collaborative potential of today's mobile technologies.This report contextualizes and maps the views of the people who are leading change, charting their ambitions and concerns, tracking their organizations and strategies, and interpreting the larger patterns that emerge as storytellers and producers redefine their arts. It considers such institutional imperatives as reorganizing the production pipeline and means of distribution, listening to and working together with audiences, partnering with other media organizations, and looking to internal assets such as archives.Case studies drawn from organizations such as The New York Times, The Guardian, National Film Board of Canada, NPR, AIR, Frontline, and other sector-leading organizations examine change within particular institutions, as well as alliances between them and the production and distribution of particular joint projects. A broader environmental assessment of the conditions faced by legacy journalism organizations complements and situates the case studies. Against this backdrop, the case studies illustrate innovations and opportunities that have recently emerged at the intersection of journalism and documentary, charting best practices as well as lessons learned that can help quality journalism thrive in this fast-changing ecosystem.

Political Polarization & Media Habits

October 21, 2014

When it comes to getting news about politics and government, those with consistent liberal or conservative views have information streams that are distinct from individuals with mixed political views -- and very distinct from each other, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. The MacArthur-supported research examines the media habits of those at the furthest left and right of the political spectrum, who together comprise about 20 percent of the American public. It finds consistent conservatives tend to trust and rely on a single news source more than others: Fox News. Conservatives are also more likely to distrust other news sources, and more likely to have friends who share their own political views. Consistent liberals, by contrast, rely on a greater range of news outlets, tend to trust more news outlets, and are more likely to block someone on a social network -- as well as end a friendship -- because of politics.

Awarding Innovation: An Assessment of the Digital Media and Learning Competition

September 1, 2014

Increasing availability and accessibility of digital media have changed the ways in which young people learn, socialize, play, and engage in civic life. Seeking to understand how learning environments and institutions should transform to respond to these changes, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (the Foundation) launched the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Initiative in 2005. This report highlights the successes and challenges of one component of the DML Initiative: the DML Competition (the Competition).

Investing in Broadband Evaluation: Guiding Policy & Innovation for the Future

February 4, 2013

How we address the broadband challenge has been called the most important infrastructure challenge of the new century by the National Broadband Plan. High-speed Internet can connect remote communities, help coordinate and streamline health care services, enable our children with unparalleled access to learning opportunities, and spark and support innovation in numerous fields. The challenge, however, is understanding what works and why across all of these important uses of broadband technology. Program evaluation can answer this need, especially if it is built into new programs and policies from the start.

Telecommunications Infrastructure

New Media and Youth Political Action

June 25, 2012

To rigorously consider the impact of new media on the political and civic behavior of young people, The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) developed and fielded one of the first large-scale, nationally representative studies of new media and politics among young people. The two principal researchers for the survey component of the YPP, Cathy J. Cohen of the University of Chicago and Joseph Kahne of Mills College, oversaw a research team that surveyed nearly 3,000 respondents between the ages of 15 and 25 years of age. Unlike any prior study of youth and new media, this study included large numbers of black, Latino, and Asian American respondents, which allows for unique and powerful statistical comparisons across race with a focus on young people.Until now there has been limited opportunity and data available to comprehensively explore the relationship between new media and the politics of young people. One of the few entities to engage in this type of rigorous analysis has been the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The YPP study expands on this field-leading work by including an extensive battery of items addressing participatory politics and adequate numbers of participants from different racial and ethnic groups, thus allowing for analysis of how different groups of young people were engaged with new media in the political realm.The YPP study findings suggest that fundamental changes in political expectations and practices may be occurring -- especially for youth. The analysis of the data collected reveals that youth are taking advantage of an expanded set of participatory practices in the political realm in ways that amplify their voice and sometimes their influence, thus increasing the ways young people participate in political life. The YPP researchers label this expanded set of opportunities and actions participatory politics.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy; Media Applications and Tools

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

Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality

February 16, 2012

Building upon a process-and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities. A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality -- primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies -- reveals patterns in youth's information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation. Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure.

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

Influencing Public Policy in the Digital Age: The Law of Online Lobbying and Election-Related Activities

September 19, 2011

Examines what is permissible for 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and 527s in using social media, blogs, e-mail lists, Web sites, social networking sites, and other communication technologies under laws that govern advocacy and political activity by nonprofits.

News That Matters: An Assessment of Chicago's Information Landscape

July 13, 2011

The Community News Matters project of The Chicago Community Trust conducted surveys and focus groups of the general public, local leaders and low-income residents to assess the level to which critical information needs of democracies are being well-met in the Chicago region and to identify critical information gaps and deficiencies in Chicago's information landscape that may need to be addressed.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Spreading the Zing: Reimagining Public Media Through the Makers Quest 2.0

May 12, 2010

Evaluates outcomes of multi-platform, participatory public radio projects in the Makers Quest 2.0 contest as a model for how and which elements of a public media project's impact should be measured: reach, inclusion, engagement, influence, and zing.

Journalism, News, and Information

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