About this project

What is the News Ecosystems project?

Welcome to the Local News Ecosystem Mapping project. We are both building on existing ecosystem research, and pioneering new methods to better map and understand news deserts and news “oases,” and the structural conditions that facilitate healthy local news ecosystems.

Our goals for this project are three-fold: 1. To help residents more easily find their local news providers, and thus be better informed; 2. To facilitate the support and expansion of local news in communities that are lacking robust local journalism; and 3. To advance the methodology for understanding the 21st century local news landscape.

Mapping the local news ecosystems of New Jersey will help the Center for Cooperative Media better serve and facilitate the network of local news providers that make up the New Jersey News Commons, while also serving as a pilot effort from which the method may be refined and applied to other states or areas.

Inquiries may be directed to CCM Research Director Sarah Stonbely, at stonbelys@montclair.edu.

Papers and posts

Phase 1 of this project was a meta-review of the news ecosystem literature, which identified three main components by which existing research on the subject may be organized: guiding metaphor, boundary used, and method. The paper concludes by identifying a method for the “gold standard” ecosystem study. Read it here.

We’ve also started a series of articles addressing critical issues in news ecosystem mapping. The first article looked at the issue of scale vs. depth, which has been an especially difficult hurtle in news ecosystem mapping. You can find it here.

The second article looked at the issues and challenges involved in using databases to compile a comprehensive list of local news providers. It can be found here.

About the contributors

Sarah Stonbely (Ph.D., New York University) is the research director at the Center for Cooperative Media in Montclair, NJ. Sarah received her doctorate in political communication, media sociology, and journalism studies from NYU in 2015. Recent prior positions include research associate on the News Measures Research Project under the direction of Phil Napoli, as well as postdoc at George Washington University in the School of Media + Public Affairs. Sarah’s expertise is in journalism culture and practice, local news ecosystems, and research methodology.

Jesse Holcomb is an assistant professor at Calvin College, where he teaches communication and journalism. Prior to that, Holcomb spent 10 years in Washington D.C. at Pew Research Center, where he was associate director of research. Holcomb has served as principal investigator on several large national projects for organizations including the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and Institute for Nonprofit News, among others.

Magda Konieczna (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is an assistant professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her book, Journalism Without Profit (Oxford, 2018), focuses on nonprofit news organizations and the future of journalism. She has a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was a city hall reporter in Canada before moving into academia.

Matthew S. Weber (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is an associate professor in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota and the Cowles Endowed Fellow of Media Management. Matthew is an expert on media industries, organizational change and the use of large-scale Web data. His recent work includes a large-scale longitudinal project mapping the health of local news and the impact of local news on communities. Additional research includes an examination of the role of technology in local news organizations, and the effectiveness of adopting social media within organizations.

Special thanks to our funders

This project is funded by:

Democracy Fund

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

The Abrams Foundation

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism