19 February 2009

"Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics"

from: The Center for Social Media at American University School of Communication

If public broadcasting throws its weight behind social media, the results will be interesting to see. This report also represents a good overview of social media issues to consider now.

[photo from The Center for Social Media at American University School of Communication]

Here it is: our long-awaited white paper, Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics. Co-authored by Future of Public Media Project Director Jessica Clark and Center for Social Media Director Pat Aufderheide, this report offers an expanded vision for public media: multiplatform, participatory, and centered around informing and mobilizing networks of engaged users. Showcasing trends and experiments from the "first two minutes" of public media 2.0, the report provides a map of opportunities and ways to make the most of them. It also suggests that public broadcasting could play a central role in public media 2.0—but only if the medium is properly restructured and supported.


Public broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, and network newscasts have all played a central role in our democracy, informing citizens and guiding public conversation. But the top-down dissemination technologies that supported them are being supplanted by an open, many-to-many networked media environment. What platforms, standards, and practices will replace or transform legacy public media?

This white paper lays out an expanded vision for “public media 2.0” that places engaged publics at its core, showcasing innovative experiments from its “first two minutes,” and revealing related trends, stakeholders, and policies. Public media 2.0 may look and function differently, but it will share the same goals as the projects that preceded it: educating, informing, and mobilizing its users.

Multiplatform, participatory, and digital, public media 2.0 will be an essential feature of truly democratic public life from here on in. And it’ll be media both for and by the public. The grassroots mobilization around the 2008 electoral campaign is just one signal of how digital tools for making and sharing media open up new opportunities for civic engagement.

But public media 2.0 won’t happen by accident, or for free. The same bottom-line logic that runs media today will run tomorrow’s media as well. If we’re going to have media for vibrant democratic culture, we have to plan for it, try it out, show people that it matters, and build new constituencies to invest in it.

The first and crucial step is to embrace the participatory—the feature that has also been most disruptive of current media models. We also need standards and metrics to define truly meaningful participation in media for public life. And we need policies, initiatives, and sustainable financial models that can turn today’s assets and experiments into tomorrow’s tried-and-true public media.

Public media stakeholders, especially such trusted institutions as public broadcasting, need to take leadership in creating a true public investment in public media 2.0.


  • Public media 2.0’s core function is to generate publics around problems.
  • Many-to-many digital technologies are fostering participatory user behaviors: choice, conversation, curation, creation, and collaboration.
  • Quality content needs to be matched with effective engagement. Public media projects can happen in any venue, commercial or not.
  • Collaboration among media outlets and allied organizations is key and requires national coordination.
  • Taxpayer funds are crucial both to sustain coordination and to fund media production, curation, and archiving.
  • Shared standards and practices make distributed public media viable.
  • Impact measurements are crucial.


  • Public media institutions and makers need to develop a participatory national network and platform; to cross cultural, social, economic, ethnic, and political divides; to collaborate; and to learn from others’ examples, including their mistakes.

  • Policymakers need to create structures and funding to support national coordination of public media networks and funding for production, curation, and archiving; to use universal design principles in communications infrastructure policy and universal service values in constructing and supporting infrastructure; to support lifelong education that helps everyone be media makers; and to build grassroots participation into public policy processes using social media tools.

  • Funders can invest in media projects that build democratic publics; in norms- setting, standardization of reliability tools, and impact metrics; and in experiments in media making, media organizations, and media tools, especially among disenfranchised communities.

No comments: