The Open Society Media Program has commissioned background papers on a range of topics that are important for understanding the effects of new technology on media and journalism. The papers accompany a series of reports, "Mapping Digital Media," on the impact of digitization on democracy in 60 countries around the world.
The incredible growth of social media has dominated the Web 2.0 decade. With research showing that most internet users stumble across news online while looking for something else, news organizations can no more ignore social media than they can ignore the communities they seek to serve (and the markets which its advertisers seek to reach).
News organizations are being sidestepped by newsmakers that use social media to communicate directly with audiences; news products are being unbundled across multiple platforms; and production processes are becoming more networked. New devices—mobile and tablets—are shifting consumption further into public and private work and leisure spaces, and there is still an enormous amount of innovation to come. Yet social media have not (yet) replaced other media. Television remains the most consumed and trusted news medium.
In this paper, Paul Bradshaw surveys the ways that news occurs in social media, and examines the implications for media-related values. It will, he concludes, become more important than ever to identify what exactly the role of journalists—and the news they report—should be, regardless of platform. Is it to hold power to account, give a voice to the voiceless and a platform for national, international, and local conversations? Or separate rumour from truth, or create well-informed citizens? New technologies provide new dangers along with new possibilities, and it will take governments, media and citizens some time to address them.
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Mapping Digital Media: Serbia December 2011 Without mechanisms to render media ownership transparent, Serbia’s media sector will not achieve its potential for independence and diversity, according to this report.
Mapping Digital Media: Latvia December 2011 Digitization has not led to better quality journalism, nor has it increased the volume of original news content in Latvia, according to this report.
Mapping Digital Media: United States November 2011 This report calls for policies in the United States to promote greater media diversity and protect and promote the public’s voice through the enforcement of open internet rules, the allocation of spectrum to unlicensed and other innovative uses, an expansion of the universal service fund to broadband, and the broadening of entities that can receive it.
Mapping Digital Media: Germany October 2011 In Germany, strong consensus in support of public service media should offset negative effects of the digital revolution on journalism standards, according to this report.