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In 2010, the Future of Public Media Project shifts gears from analysis to action

After many months of deliberation about "What is public media?" pieces have started to fall into place. Public broadcasting leaders, innovators both within and outside of the sector, nonprofit and educational leaders, funders, and policymakers are all shifting into a new gear—and they're looking to the reports and tools that CSM has created for guidance about how best to transform to serve publics in an open, participatory media ecosystem.

Interest in public media 2.0 outside of the usual circles is also growing. I spent the last few months of 2009 describing related possibilities and complications to a range of audiences. At the Library of Congress, I suggested to attendees of the annual FLICC Forum that the "future of reading" might well be writing—or at the very least, collaborative interpretation of texts via social media tools. As the Visiting Honors Scholar at Muhlenberg College, students grilled me about overlaps and conflicts between journalism, propaganda, public media, and political activism. BBC Persia called to ask about the role of social media in reporting, especially under repressive regimes like the one in Iran. On KALW's "Your Call" I debated Bob Garfield of "On the Media" about whether the current journalism crisis is exciting and generative, or tragic and chaotic (guess who argued what?) And I joined two lively discussions about how policy might affect public media at the TPRC conference, and the Media Access Project's Policy Forum Series. In perhaps the most interesting twist, I was contacted late in the year by media advocates in Hong Kong, who are hoping to use our white paper to shape public service media policy in their country. The white paper even landed a spot on the 2009’s Most Influential Media About Media list, compiled by John Bracken of the MacArthur Foundation

So, now that we've laid such solid groundwork, the Future of Public Media Project is itself transforming to meet the coming challenges. We're shifting from analysis to action, honing in on three areas:

 

  • Field building: In early 2010, we'll begin to convene the Public Media Working Group, a set of innovative leaders from across public broadcasting whose projects have engagement as a primary focus. The goal will be to use the white paper and related research as a platform for building new networks, collaborations, and pipelines for public media 2.0.
  • Project incubation: We've already begun to help construct cutting-edge public media 2.0 projects, most notably the Public Media Corps. In 2009, CSM also supported a set of public media 2.0 demonstration projects headed up by American University faculty, including the Clean Hands Project, Our Stories, and DC Intersections.
  • Policy research: CSM staff and fellows are both tracking and weighing in on the various policy debates related to journalism, Fair Use, universal broadband and government transparency. Most notably, CSM fellow Ellen Goodman submitted substantive comments to the FCC, recommending a new framework for the CPB reauthorization that would allow public media to spur broadband adoption. This and related policy proposals are summarized in my recent MediaShift piece.

Alongside these new tracks, we will continue our research into trends and best practices for public media 2.0 makers. I am currently working with various research fellows to examine best practices in impact assessment, and Center Director Pat Aufderheide will continue her very successful work in developing codes of practice related to Fair Use. We see these reports as tools for networked makers and educators, developed in concert with practitioners so as to best provide them with standards for producing successful, viable projects.

It's shaping up to be a busy year! Check back soon for more details.