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New Berkman Report: State of Digital Media

Over the past year and several months, Persephone Miel has been leading a Berkman Center project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, called Media Re:public:

an assessment of the changes in new media over the past several years and … a sober look at the successes and ongoing challenges.

The goal was to look at journalism in this new era, to figure out where it’s come and where it might be going. The word “sober” is particularly apt given the turmoil that has become standard in the craft and the business.

Today, Persephone and the center released her report overview (PDF), plus a collection of related essays. I wrote one of them, entitled “Principles for a New Media Literacy” — a piece that discusses ways we can and should be more activist as media consumers and creators.

Other contributors — here’s the downloads page (all PDFs) — included Ethan Zuckerman; Pat Aufderheide and Jessica Clark; Ernie Wilson; Tom Stites and John Kelly. You’ll also find case studies of several new-media projects.

There’s a tremendous amount of useful material in these pages. Take a look.

0 Comments on “New Berkman Report: State of Digital Media”

  1. #1 Seth Finkelstein
    on Dec 18th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I skimmed your piece.

    As I’ve said (futilely, not getting myself any points), it’s a risk-shifting viewpoint, which places the greatest burdens on the weakest and least powerful 🙁 .

  2. #2 Dan Gillmor
    on Dec 18th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Given the plausible alternatives I’ll stick with it…

  3. #3 Seth Finkelstein
    on Dec 19th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    You don’t see any plausible alternatives to preaching and inveighing against the “little guy” for not being able to single-handedly neutralize organizational interests of liars, demagogues, marketers, propagandists, etc?

    That’s disheartening. 🙁

  4. #4 Dan Gillmor
    on Dec 19th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    There are lots of plausible alternatives to your over-the-top description of what I actually said. Why not give this a rest, Seth…

  5. #5 Seth Finkelstein
    on Dec 19th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Yeah, yeah, sorry Dan, I’m tilting at windwills again, it’s a weakness 🙁

  6. #6 Jon Garfunkel
    on Dec 20th, 2008 at 3:43 pm


    I had a look at your paper as well. All interesting stuff, but, as always, I think your next step is to try and produce data beyond your assertions.

    You say that readers should assign negative credibility to anonymous commenters. But is there any research behind this as to what the average reader thinks?

    Ditto for the “echo chamber” and the “lens” effect — what do we really know? Do smart people really read every story from multiple angles? How about the people who refuse to read source X because they’d rather not work at untangling the biases?

    As for NewsTrust, I have a lot of respect for Fabrice and the data he’s gleaning. But I’m just unsold on the premise (that I wanted to believe 4 years ago) that the data from an aggregated data service *drives quality improvements.* My sense is that media executives look to win awards and avoid scandals. If there’s a publisher who says “Yeah, we check NewsTrust’s numbers right after we review the web log stats…” I’ll start to believe it.


  7. #7 Bill Smith
    on Dec 23rd, 2008 at 2:08 pm


    Thanks for bringing the report to surface — I’ve also only skimmed thus far but one thing in particular I’m in agreement with are the terms for the divisions of media, in particular, Legacy and Participatory. They are descriptive without being derogatory, something I hadn’t considered until I had a colleague carp that “what, so I only work with old media” in response to my own title of “new media.”

    BTW — happy holidays