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Local Journalism and Media Policy — recordings from all five Tow Center events

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the U.S. news industry, especially at the local level, accelerating trend lines evident since the early 2000s. What can be done to safeguard local news?

Photo via Sam Draddy on Twitter.

“What role can (and should) media policy play in supporting a strong, sustainable, vibrant local media sector in the United States?”

That’s the question I explored in late-2021 and early 2022 in a five part webinar series for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

Organized in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Nick Mathews, the series was designed to introduce and debate the best ways for media policy to support local journalism in the USA.

The webinars examined topics such as the role that media policy has historically played in supporting — and shaping — local news, how it can be leveraged to ensure access to information (including tackling digital divides), it’s contribution to facilitating community media, and what role it can play in encouraging new ownership and revenue models.

Expert panels — from academia, industry and foundations supporting journalism — examined the instruments that policymakers at a state and federal level have in their arsenal, and which ones they should deploy.

Here’s the top-level details of each session and links to the materials from them.

  1. An introduction to Media Policy and Local Journalism. (Watch on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud, read the transcript on Scribd and write-up on Medium), 21 October 2021.
  2. Lessons from Overseas. (Watch the full conversation on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud, read the transcript on Scribd and write-up on Medium and the Tow weekly newsletter), 18 November 2021.
  3. Giving a Voice to Grassroots Media. (Watch the full conversation on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud, read the transcript on Scribd and write-up in the Tow newsletter and on Medium), 16 December 2021.
  4. Emerging Issues and Fresh Ideas. (Watch the full conversation on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud, read the transcript on Scribd and write-up in the Tow newsletter and on Medium), 20 January 2022
  5. Lessons learned and a look at what happens next. (Watch the full conversation on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud, read the transcript on Scribd and write-up in the Tow newsletter and on Medium), 27 January 2022.

Full links, detailed of panelists + other materials embedded below.

Session 1: An introduction to Media Policy and Local Journalism

Panel:

  • Dr. Victor Pickard, C. Edwin Baker Professor of Media Policy and Political Economy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.
  • Dr. Nikki Usher, Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Fellow at the Open Markets Institute.
  • Professor Emily Bell, Founding Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, Leonard Tow professor of Journalism.

Session 2: Lessons from Overseas

Panel:

  • Dr. Kristy Hess, Associate Professor of Communication at Deakin University, Australia; Associate Editor, Digital Journalism.
  • Dr. Matthew Powers, Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication, University of Washington. Co-Director of Center for Journalism, Media and Democracy at University of Washington.
  • Sameer Padania is the Founder and Advisor at Macroscope, Lead Author Journalism Funders Forum.

Session 3: Giving a Voice to Grassroots Media

Panel:

  • Graciela Mochkofsky, Director of the Bilingual Journalism Program, Executive Director, Center for Community Media at Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.
  • Tracie Powell, Founder at The Pivot Fund and a Fall 2021 Shorenstein Center Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.
  • Simon Galperin, Founding Director of the Bloomfield Information Project and the Community Info Coop.

Session 4: Emerging Issues and Fresh Ideas

Panel:

  • Jessica Gonzalez, Co-CEO, Free Press
  • Sue Cross, Executive Director and CEO at Institute for Nonprofit News
  • Dr. Christopher Ali, Associate Professor, University of Virginia, Knight News Innovation Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University

Session 5: Emerging Issues and Fresh Ideas

Panel:

  • Dr. Joy Jenkins, Assistant Professor at School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee
  • Dr. Elizabeth Hansen, Senior Research Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, co-founder of the National Trust for Local News.
  • Dr. Phil Napoli, James R. Shepley Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at Duke University.

I hope you find these materials useful. I am currently working on a report pulling together some of the key ideas from this series, which will be published later in the year.

Damian Radcliffe is the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, a Professor of Practice, an affiliate faculty member of the Department for Middle East and North Africa Studies (MENA) and the Agora Journalism Center, and a Research Associate of the Center for Science Communication Research (SCR), at the University of Oregon.

Alongside holding the Chambers Chair at the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), he is also a three-time Fellow of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies (JOMEC), and a life fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

An experienced digital analyst, consultant, journalist, and researcher, Damian has worked in editorial, research, policy, and teaching positions for the past two and a half decades in the UK, Middle East, and USA. This includes roles in all media sectors (commercial, public, government, regulatory, academic, and nonprofit/civil society) and all platforms (print, digital, TV and radio).

Follow him on Twitter @damianradcliffe

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