09/30/09 But what happens to that important resource of public media when the way media are structured changes? Public media, like other media, have been organized as mass media—one entity broadcasting messages to audiences.
09/30/09 Increasingly, the Internet affords and encourages networked information, in which many people can connect with many others in networked ways.
Active Internet usage is no longer the province of the young and the early adopters. As you can see from this recent research from the Pew Foundation for Internet and Society, about half the adult population of Internet users in the U.S. is over 35 years old.
09/30/09 Many people are using the Internet not only to read the newspaper and look up the pharmacy phone number, but to build their own networks of knowledge. Social media—interactive media—are now ubiquitous and changing the media landscape everywhere…
09/30/09 Media used to have the broadcaster, the publisher, the maker of media in the center. Now, the people formerly known as the audience are in the center. They—we--are deciding what to call down on our iPods, our phones, our TIVOs, our TVs, who to talk with about it, what to blog about it.
09/30/09 The people formerly known as the audience now play many roles; they are importat to mediamakers in a whole variety of new ways. This slide shows you just some of the many ways that people now engage with their media. We got this information by asking a group of people at a panel at a conference to brainstorm a few of the ways they interact with their media. This information was crowdsourced over 15 minutes.
09/30/09 This is a time of extraordinary growth and change. But what does it mean for public media—media for public knowledge and action? As other media change, what happens to media that serve public purposes?
09/30/09 Does tomorrow's public media look like Public Radio Player? This is broadcasting, adapted to the iPod era. Public radio stations in the U.S. can make their signals available on iPods, iPhones, iTouches. The goal was to bring public radio to where people are; if they're not on radio anymore, and plugged in to their iPods, then go there. The problem has been that stations don't want to giveup the local listeners, and they don't want them listening to natioanl shows anywhere but their local station. This service pleases stations because it connects you to your local station; but it also gives you the option of picking the national shows. Eventually, the local stations are going to have to find something to do besides air national progrmaming.
09/30/09 Does public media look like Patchwork Nation? This is a mix of publicly funded legacy public media, traditional newspaper journalism, and new media. It is a news analysis site, created in a partnership--Christian Science Monitor PLUS NewsHour PLUS public broadcasting stations PLUS bloggers. The goal is to research and showcase the actual diversity of the U.S. Funded by the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization created by the scions of one of the largest newspaper chains in the US.
09/30/09 Does public media look like ProPublica? This is well-researched, independent journalism outside the daily newspaper. Funded by private foundations, it employs 32 reporters in Manhattan, and does aggressive marketing to daily journalism outlets for its news stories
09/30/09 Does public media look like OpenCOngress.org? This is a site that performs a watchdog funciton on Congress; or rather, it gives you the tools to do so. A foundation funded effort that lets citizens figure out what their legislators are doing, to let their legislators know their opinion, to track what they do about it,to join groups that are taking action, and to understand it in depth.
Does public media look like ThousandKites? This is a project to share the stories of people in prison, many of them charging civil rights violations. The goal is to create greater awareness and capacity to act in communities on the issue of criminal justice reform. The project combines professional and amateur capacity. It started at a regional media arts center, Appalshop, in the poor and disadvantaged region of Appalachia, when a new SuperMaximum security prison was moved into the neighborhood. Soon the prisoners were writing to Appalshop's radio station begging them to play less bluegrass and more rap. That led to a call-in show, and eventually to this website, where you can record or upload your story via your cell phone, share it with people, listen to other people's stories, and get a guide on how to conduct a listening session or a meeting. It's a mix of the professional skills of Appalshoppers and the amateur voices of the storytellers themselves. It depends on some foundation funding and on the volunteer contributions of the storytellers. 09/30/09
09/30/09 Here's an example of what you might hear on ThousandKites.
09/30/09 Or would public media look like Ushahidi? Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, is a platform that crowdsources crisis information. Allowing anyone to submit crisis information through text messaging using a mobile phone, email or web form. IT's open, citizen-run, against centralized news authority, spontaneous. This is a public purpose that is completely separate from any government role, and done purely on a volunteer basis. Ushahidi is the tool; you fill it with your content. This shows how when reporters were not allowed into Gaza,locals and resident Al-Jazeera reporters were able to provide information that contradicted Israeli official reports. Other recent uses were to monitor Mexican elections, and to identify sites in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia where there were shortages of medicine.
09/30/09 Could public media be an ad-hoc function of otherwise commercial networked media? Technorati and Digg are both meta-journalism sites, created by the ratings given to news information by their readers. The rankings are almost entirely crowd-sourced. Could there be specifically public functions that simply work by using the tools of social media?
09/30/09 Oh, and how will it be paid for? Traditional public media have a government subsidy, or they have a business model—such as the advertising base of a general-interest newspaper—that is distanced from any individual piece of reporting. In this decentralized environment, who pays for the creation of reliable, dependable media for public knowledge and action?
09/30/09 We're in the phase of many small experiments, and no one seems to have the crystal ball to predict the future, but...
09/30/09 Consolidation will eventually occur. Under whose terms? Public media capacity will be preserved not by the market but by political will. What’s necessary?
09/30/09 For any kind of realiable communication, including public media, we need to have a reliable, affordable, accessible communications infrastructure. In our day, that means ubiquitous, fast, secure broadband. Everyone in the society—immigrants, disabled people, the poor, the far-flung—need to able to get it.
09/30/09 Public media planners need to have a commitment to partnership not silos. The commercial/noncommercial divide has to be permeable—with standards, of course.There need to be incentives, through government policy, for collaboration.
09/30/09 Public media planners need to seize the advantages of a networked environment, and to understand the centrality of the user in this environment. They need to have a commitment to participation with the “people formerly known as the audience.”
09/30/09 Finally, public media planners need a commitment to serving a vital, healthy public life, one that engages peopl as citizens. They need to understand that public media are important because publics are important to democracy and a healthy open society.
09/30/09 For a fuller explanation of this, please read our report, “Public media 2.0” at futureofpublicmedia.net.
And to stay current on the latest examples of public media experimentation, check out our Public Media Showcase online. 09/30/09
Public Media 2.0: Opportunities and Challenges
PUBLIC MEDIA 2.0: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES Patricia Aufderheide Center for Social Media School of Communication American University [email_address]