April 10, 2017
What drives readers to contribute to breaking stories? How do media companies balance unpaid user content with professional reporting? Michael Zeng, a German doctoral candidate, explores how newspapers can harness a growing consumer demand to participate in the news cycle.
March 14, 2017
Can reporters adequately inform citizens about important policy issues or major news events if they cannot get access to public documents? A new report released this week examines the state of the freedom and accessibility of information in the United States. The 50-year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which gives the public – and journalists – the right to request access to most government documents, is being weakened, particularly at local levels. This investigation explores the consequences and solutions.
March 10, 2017
Can journalism move residents to become engaged in solving problems in their communities? Do readers have an appetite for “good news” and solutions-oriented stories? Andrea Wenzel’s research on “solutions journalism” dives into this issue to understand how news outlets can promote civic involvement and problem solving in disenfranchised areas.
February 24, 2017
Is the current generation of high school students more supportive of the First Amendment than their predecessors, the Millennials? For the past decade, the Knight Foundation has commissioned Ken Dautrich, Associate Professor in Public Policy at the University of Connecticut, to survey the attitudes of the country’s high school students and teachers.
February 14, 2017
Who fills the void when economic pressures hit local newspapers? Why are online startups in some communities more numerous and successful than those in other areas? Matthew Powers, a professor at the University of Washington, has been studying the formation of startups in Seattle and Toulouse, France, with his colleague, Sandra Vera Zambrano of Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. These two cities share a number of similarities: they are comparable in size, levels of education, and use of technology.
February 7, 2017
What is the future of newspaper advertising departments in small, low-growth communities? Can the print sales reps at these newspapers become digital advertising experts? JoAnn Sciarrino, Knight Chair in Digital Advertising and Marketing at the University of North Carolina, explores these questions in a case study on The Whiteville News Reporter, a Pulitzer-Prize-Winning, twice-weekly paper with a print circulation of 10,000. The paper, which serves one of the poorest counties in North Carolina, was an early pioneer in the digital space, establishing a robust website and social media presence that connects with thousands of loyal users on a daily basis. But, like most other papers, it has struggled to increase digital advertising revenue to compensate for the loss of print advertising revenue.
January 31, 2017
Philip M. Napoli, the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, has focused his research efforts on understanding local media institutions and their importance to the communities where they are located, and to assessing the effects of media regulation and policy on the evolving news ecosystem. Currently, he is overseeing the News Measures Research Project, which seeks to develop new approaches for assessing the health of local journalism ecosystems, as well as identify community characteristics that impact the robustness of such news ecosystems. Most recently he mapped the ecosystems of three New Jersey communities – New Brunswick, Newark and Morristown – and is in the process of gathering data on 100 randomly selected communities in the U.S., with the aim of determining which are most “at risk” of becoming news deserts.
January 24, 2017
Christopher Ali, Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, has been working on some of the most pressing questions related to the future of local news. What exactly is local news and, more broadly, local media? How should we regulate it and how much do we value it? Is it important enough, for instance, for us as taxpayers to subsidize local news gathering organizations – or even more radically, should our governments provide local news free of charge, just as public education is offered free to all citizens?
January 18, 2017
Since 2011, Merja Myllylahti, a former financial journalist, has been tracking media ownership patterns in New Zealand. During that time, ownership has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few barons. What are the implications of this for her country? Are there cautionary lessons for U.S. media companies, which are going through a period of contraction and consolidation? What does consolidation mean for the future of news organizations around the globe, struggling to develop new and sustainable digital business models?
January 11, 2017
Newspapers have historically served a critical role in our democracy, identifying the “hot button” issues that are debated and voted on in communities large and small. Dr. Sarah Cavanah, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota, is focused on researching the role of public affairs journalism in supporting healthy communities. A former newspaper and magazine journalist and public relations professional, she is the author of several educational books and workbooks aimed at elementary and middle school students and has served three organizations committed to supporting student media. She is originally from Marceline, Missouri.
November 28, 2016
The buildings where newspapers were published in the 20th century were often iconic structures. They stood out on the skylines of large cities or became gathering places for local residents in small communities. Perhaps none was more symbolic of the community it called home than Florida’s flagship Miami Herald building that looked out on Biscayne Bay. Built in 1963, it also served as headquarters for the Knight Ridder chain until the late 1990s. Like many other newspaper owners in recent years, the publisher, McClatchy, decided in 2013 to move from downtown, and seek smaller and less expensive quarters in the suburbs. In this article, professor Nikki Usher chronicles the effect that the move had on both the Herald journalists and on the Miami community. “Where news is made matters,” she concludes. As a post-script, the old Herald building was purchased by a Malaysian company and demolished in 2015.
What is the value to society of investigative journalism? In his new book, Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism (Harvard, 2016), author James T. (Jay) Hamilton calculates the long-term economic consequence to society when lives are saved and disasters are averted by such reporting. He argues that citizens who live in a community are the real beneficiaries of investigative journalism, regardless of whether they are subscribers to or viewers of the media outlets that invest significant time and money in a reporting effort that surfaces a societal problems and analyze the causes. In contrast, most news organizations gain very little direct economic benefit. With revenues and profit under pressure in many legacy news organizations, fewer such reports are being produced. This “market failure” has long-term implications for society, argues Hamilton, which is why he hopes the book will be read by both journalists and non-journalists.