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news and information as digital media come of ageBerkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard UniversityBy Persephone Miel and Robert FarisMEDIARE:PUBLICoverview 2008at Harvard Universitymedia re:public | overview | news and information as digital media come of age | 2008 Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard UniversityThe past year has been an amazing learning process and a wonderful collaboration with far too many people to thank properly. The Berkman community of fellows, staff, and affiliates is an inspiring place to work. I am especially grateful to John Palfrey, for his patient and insightful guidance; Colin Maclay, for his excellent questions and unusual metaphors; and my co-author Rob Faris, for his patience and perseverance in getting it right. John Bracken and Elspeth Revere of the MacArthur Foundation were much more than sponsors—their thoughtful perspective and their passion for these issues informed and inspired the work. They were instrumental in helping to gather more than 100 remarkable people at USC Annenberg in March 2008 for the Media Re:public forum. A special thank you to everyone involved, whether you presented, moderated, listened, tweeted, blogged, or negotiated with the caterers and booked plane tickets (special thanks to Catherine Bracy, for that and everything else that you make look so easy, and to Carey Andersen, for her cheerful help with everything).The research and this paper were much improved by the thoughtful critiques and expert advice of many generous and smart people within and without Berkman, including: David Ardia, Pat Aufderheide, Charlie Beckett, Josh Benton, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Jessica Clark, Carol Darr, Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, Bruce Etling, Dan Gillmor, Christine Gorman, Jon Greenberg, Eszter Hargittai, Andrew Heyward, Keith Hopper, Ellen Hume, Colleen Kaman, Beth Kolko, Dori Maynard, Ann Olson, Geneva Overholser, Jan Schaffer, Stephen Schultze, Doc Searls, Wendy Seltzer, Jake Shapiro, Ivan Sigal, Tom Stites, Lokman Tsui, David Weinberger, Lisa Williams, Ernest Wilson III, and Ethan Zuckerman. Thanks to all my research assistants, but especially Khadija, Dan, and Matt, who worked harder and more cheerfully than could be imagined. I am also indebted to the dozens of media professionals, technologists, and researchers for the interviews and conversations both formal and informal that shaped and challenged my thinking.Persephone MielCambridge, Massachusetts, December 2008AdditionAl reseArch & writing: Lokman Tsui, Wendy Seltzer, David ArdiareseArch AssistAnts: Khadija Amjad, Dan J. Levy, Matt Hampel, Tihomir Tsenkulovski, Michael Mylrea, D. Yvette Wohndesigner: Monica Katzenellcopy editor: Nancy KotaryAdditionAl editing And grAphics: Jillian C. York, Lexie Koss, Tim Hwang, Brendan Ballounews and information as digital media come of ageacknowledgments/ imedia re:public | overview | news and information as digital media come of age | 2008 executive summAryKey issuespossible responsesBAcKgroundthe structural transformation of mediaAll media Are in transitionthe special position of newspapersthe unique and Fragile American media modeldigitAl mediA in prActicenew Authors, new tools, new Formats Comments, Critiques, and Conversation Soft News Opinion and Analysis: The Forte of Author-Centric Media Reporting Accidental Journalists Activist Media and Almost-Journalists Citizen Journalism Crowdsourcing New Genres: Multimedia, Multiplatform, InteractiveForming new Audiences Hyperlocal: The New Importance of Location The Über-Niches: Partisan Politics and Technology Forming Online Audiencesredefining editors Aggregation: The Personalized Editor Search: The Editor of the Moment Social Bookmarking, Recommendation Engines: The Crowd as Editor Filtering: The Network as Editor Choosing Among New Editorsnew chAllenges in An erA oF convergence And disAggregAtionconvergencedisaggregation and interdependencethe impact on newsgatheringthe Attention economyreinventing the concept of coveragethe credibility challenge takes on a new shapesetting new standards for Access and participationnavigating the shifting media economy Diluted Revenues, Potential Cost Savings The Growth of Nonprofit Journalism Networked Approachesconclusionsresponding to the challenges: reinventing Journalism in the public interestmoving ForwardBerkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Universitytable of contents/ ii12458102327323334394143media re:public | overview | news and information as digital media come of age | 2008 executive summary Every day, more people turn to the Internet as a primary source of news: reading blogs, visiting aggregators and online news sites, watching video clips, listening to podcasts, and opening links in emails from friends. Members of this growing audience are not only consumers of the news—many are shaping the news agenda for themselves and others: selecting, combining, and commenting on stories as well as creating their own. The United States is now several years into what promises to be a transformation of the media. It is driven by the rapid expansion of the number of people and organizations newly engaged as authors, editors, and publishers. In the United States and other developed countries, this expansion is occurring in tandem with serious contractions in the traditional news media. This paper explores the impact of the remarkable array of new media structures that have arisen to take advantage of these new opportunities and evaluates the problems and limitations associated with these changes. In seeking to understand the contours of the still-evolving news and information media environment in 2008 and the role of participatory media in it, Media Re:public begins from the following premises: • Public participation in the media, enabled by the Internet, is a burgeoning and evolving phenomenon that has both positive and negative effects.• Dramatic changes in the traditional news media are occurring in parallel to the rise in participation, primarily due to the disruption of their business models by new distribution systems.• Simple dichotomies—new vs. old, mainstream media vs. blogosphere—do not accurately describe the


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