The readings below all address some aspect of ecosystem research – mapping, information flow, content analysis, audience study, etc. This list is by no means complete and will be added to periodically. Please send any suggestions to CCM Research Director Sarah Stonbely at [email protected].

Journalistic Networks and the Diffusion of Local News: The Brief, Happy News Life of the ‘Francisville Four’
C.W. Anderson | 2010

Through a combination of network ethnography and more traditional, qualitative newsroom analysis, this article undertakes a step-by-step analysis of the circulation of a particular set of news facts—those relating to the eviction and arrest of a group of homeowners in Philadelphia during a single week in June 2008, a time period in which the story of the arrests emerged, exploded, and then quickly faded away. The article discusses some of the larger explanatory factors that might have contributed to the particular pattern of news diffusion described here, as well as the degree to which the factors observed might be generalizable across other cases. The article adds local nuance to Benkler’s (2006) description of information circulation in the networked public sphere, pointing to a pattern of iterative pyramiding in which key Web sites positioned within highly particular communities of interest act as bridges to larger, more diffused digital communities. The article also argues that news movement in the particular incident discussed can be characterized by an unusual combination of fact-entrepreneurship and a process of categorical misrecognition in which the circulation dynamics of the networked news ecosystem are leveraged by institutional and quasi-institutional communicative actors to advance particular occupational and professional goals, all the while misrecognizing both the identity and goals of the other nodes in the Philadelphia media sphere. Overall, the article serves as a preliminary attempt to outline the changing architecture of local journalism ecologies during a period of rapid news industry.

News Ecosystems
C.W. Anderson | 2016

Chapter in The SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism, Tamara Witschge, C.W. Anderson, David Domingo, and Alfred Hermida (Eds.), pp. 410–23. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

The Expanding News Desert
Penelope Muse Abernathy | 2018

This report examines the implications for communities at risk of losing their primary source of credible news. Concerned citizens, community activists, philanthropists, policy makers, educators, journalists and others in the industry can use this website to drill down to the county level to understand how the news landscape in each of our 50 states has changed in recent years and the implications this has for their communities. By documenting the shifting news landscape and evaluating the threat of media deserts, this report seeks to raise awareness of the role each of these interested parties can play in addressing the challenges confronting local news and democracy.

The Rise of a New Media Baron and the Emerging Threat of News Deserts
Penelope Muse Abernathy | 2016

This report, divided into four sections, documents dramatic changes over the past decade. With the industry in distress, local newspapers are shrinking, and some are vanishing. At the same time, a new type of newspaper owner has emerged, very different from traditional publishers, the best of whom sought to balance business interests with civic responsibility to the community where their paper was located. As newspapers confront an uncertain future, the choices these new owners make could determine whether vast “news deserts” arise in communities and regions throughout the country. This has implications not just for the communities where these papers are located, but also, in the long-term, for all of America.

The Murrow Rural Information Initiative: Access, Digital Citizenship and the Obligations of the Washington State Information Sector
Brett Atwood | 2012

The state of Washington is an information enigma. Some of the nation’s leading digital technology companies are headquartered in and around Seattle, yet vast areas of the state are starved of locally relevant public affairs news. Google and Yahoo are just two of the global Internet companies that have opened offices in the state, joining content giants like Amazon and, yet only 20 towns have a daily newspaper, just 23 have radio stations with some form of local news, and TV is clustered in four cities with tightly defined coverage areas. T-Mobile is headquartered in the state, yet mobile dead zones are common outside the major towns. Facebook recently opened a major office in Seattle, yet Washington’s use of social networking platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is lower than many other states. In huge sections of Washington, citizens have little or no access to news about what is taking place in their own communities. The situation is particularly grim in areas populated by minorities and on some of the vast Native American reservations. In short, Washington is a digital state with a rural information ghetto.

Mas Informacion: An information needs assessment of Latino immigrants in Oakland California
Madeleine Bair | 2018

Information needs assessments can help provide a snapshot of how information moves through a community, what issues are most important to residents, and how best to expand the news conversation to a diverse audience. This information needs assessment is the initial project of El Tímpano—an an initiative Madeleine Bair founded in 2017 to develop two-way channels of communication to better inform, engage, and empower the Latino immigrant community in Oakland, California. The goal of this assessment is to identify what kinds of efforts exist to both get and share news and information with local residents specific to their communities, and to share examples of news engagement projects in other communities that might be useful or instructive to community groups in Oakland.

Social Mobilization and the Networked Public Sphere: Mapping the SOPA-PIPA Debate
Yochai Benkler, Hal Roberts, Robert Faris, Alicia Solow-Niederman, and Bruce Etling | 2013

This paper uses a novel set of online research tools to develop a detailed study of the public debate over proposed legislation in the United States designed to give prosecutors and copyright holders new tools to pursue suspected online copyright violations. For this study, we compiled, mapped, and analyzed a set of 9,757 stories relevant to the COICA-SOPA-PIPA debate from September 2010 through the end of January 2012 using Media Cloud, an open source tool created at the Berkman Center to allow quantitative analysis of a large number of online media sources. This study applies a mixed-methods approach by combining text and link analysis with human coding and informal interviews to map the evolution of the controversy over time and to analyze the mobilization, roles, and interactions of various actors.

Building an audience, bonding a city: Digital news production as a field of care
Jan Lauren Boyles | 2016

Cities act as shared social structures that shape citizen identity. These bonds are solidified through fields of care, in which residents are tied to the city by both geographic space and emotional attachment. Pre-digital scholarship established that news production acts as a field of care, strengthening relationships to the urban environment. This research revisits news production as a field of care in the digital age. Driven by an ecological approach to news production informed by the historic works of Chicago School sociologists, this study examines how New Orleans operates as a news environment to build news audiences and bond urban residents to the city. Built upon a complement of qualitative methods including 49 in-depth interviews with media practitioners, ethnographic observation, and document analysis, this work advances that the city’s news ecology rests upon notions of publicness and spectacle to connect with audiences. This study finds that even in the digital age, ties to the physical community remain essential to engaging digital news audiences within metropolitan spaces.

News Startups as Agents of Innovation
Matt Carlson and Nikki Usher | 2016

For-profit digital news startups backed by large investors, venture capital, and technology entrepreneurs have taken on an increasingly significant role in the journalism industry. This article examines 10 startups by focusing on the manifestos these new organizations offer when they introduce themselves to the public. These manifestos are an example of metajournalistic discourse, or interpretive discourse about journalism, that publicly define how journalism is changing—or is not. In identifying and touting the superiority of their technological innovations, the manifestos simultaneously affirm and critique existing journalistic practices while rethinking longstanding boundaries between journalism and technology.

The Mediated City: The News in a Post-Industrial Context
Stephen Coleman, Nancy Thumim, Chris Birchall, Julie Firmstone, Giles Moss, Katy Parry, Judith Stamper, and Jay G. Blumler | 2016

Mediated City begins by asking: how does news circulate in a major post-industrial city? To answer, Coleman and his colleagues analyze a wide-range of practices involved in producing, circulating, and consuming news, and examine the various ways and mediums through which individuals and groups may find out about, follow, or discuss local issues and events. They directly critique the assumptions  of many scholars about the centrality of certain news media, and show that questions about what news really is and what types of media constitute and deliver it truly matter.

An Information Community Case  Study: Scranton
Jessica Durkin and Tom Glaisyer | 2010

This is one of several pioneering local information ecosystem studies created by Tom Glaisyer and his colleagues at the Media Policy Initiative of New America Foundation in the early 2010s. These studies qualitatively and holistically analyzed the information ecosystems of major and secondary U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., the “research triangle” in North Carolina, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia’s Media Ecology
Bruce Etling, Hal Roberts, and Robert Faris | 2014

Applying a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, we investigate whether Russian blogs represent an alternative public sphere distinct from web-based Russian government information sources and the mainstream media. Based on data collected over a one-year period (December 2010 through December 2011) from thousands of Russian political blogs and other media sources, we compare the cosine similarity of the text from blogs, mainstream media, major TV channels, and official government websites. We find that, when discussing a selected set of major political and news topics popular during the year, blogs are consistently the least similar to government sources compared to TV and the mainstream media. We also find that the text of mainstream media outlets in Russia (primarily traditional and web-native newspapers) are more similar to government sources than one would expect given the greater editorial and financial independence of those media outlets, at least compared to largely state-controlled national TV stations. We conclude that blogs provide an alternative public sphere: a space for civic discussion and organization that differs significantly from that provided by the mainstream media, TV, and government.

Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Rob Faris, Hal Roberts, Bruce Etling, Nikki Bourassa, Ethan Zuckerman, and Yochai Benkler | 2017

This study analyzes both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. It documents that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda: when reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign. The analysis includes the evaluation and mapping of the media landscape from several perspectives and is based on large-scale data collection of media stories published on the web and shared on Twitter.

Media Deserts: Monitoring the Changing Media Ecosystem
Michelle Ferrier, Guarav Sinha, and Michael Outrich | 2016

This chapter describes the Media Deserts Project, which allows researchers to monitor the health of media ecosystems and provides a valuable tool in policy and resource allocation. By mapping circulation data onto geographies, the Media Deserts Project relies on a geographic framework and a geographic information system technology to assess and track the changes in the information health of communities across the USA. The team behind the project is working to create new mapping tools for researchers, policymakers, and local leaders to help them identify communities lacking access to local news and information, as well as measure trends in access to critical news and information needs and where valuable human and capital resources might be deployed to establish or restore news and information coverage.

Civic Communication in a Networked Society: Seattle’s emergent ecology
Lewis A. Friedland | 2014

In the previous era, arguably, there was mutual support between the civic and communication ecologies. The linchpin of both was the daily newspaper, which chronicled civic life and provided critical information on government and community that, in turn, made decision making possible. Whether good citizens made for strong newspapers or vice versa is a debate that has never quite been settled. But that the two together drove both local democratic politics and civic association on the one hand, and the identification of citizens with local community on the other, is quite clear. Now we see those systems moving apart.

America’s Critical Community Information Needs
Lewis A. Friedland | 2016

This chapter provides an overview of the volume’s core proposition: that Americans need information to govern themselves, to participate effectively in society, and to be safe. These needs fall along eight dimensions, including emergencies and risks, health and welfare, education, transportation, economic opportunities, the environment, civic information, and political information. Yet, despite these growing needs, the American information landscape is at a precarious moment as “news deserts” increase in the face of a contracting news media economy. New public policies at the federal level are necessary in order to help local communities meet the information needs of the American public.

Linking Audiences to News: A Network Analysis of Chicago Websites
Rich Gordon and Zachary Johnson| 2011

The mass media model, which sustained news and information in communities like Chicago for decades, is being replaced by a “new news ecosystem” consisting of hundreds of websites, podcasts, video streams and mobile applications. In 2009, The Chicago Community Trust set out to understand this ecosystem, assess its health and make investments in improving the flow of news and information in Chicagoland.

The Battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’: Mapping a Media Controversy Online and Off-line
Erhardt Graeff, Matt Stempeck, and Ethan Zuckerman| 2014

One of the biggest news stories of 2012, the killing of Trayvon Martin, nearly disappeared from public view, initially receiving only cursory local news coverage. But the story gained attention and controversy over Martin’s death dominated headlines, airwaves, and Twitter for months, thanks to a savvy publicist working on behalf of the victim’s parents and a series of campaigns offline and online. Using the theories of networked gatekeeping and networked framing, we map out the vast media ecosystem using quantitative data about the content generated around the Trayvon Martin story in both offline and online media, as well as measures of engagement with the story, to trace the interrelations among mainstream media, nonprofessional and social media, and their audiences. We consider the attention and link economies among the collected media sources in order to understand who was influential when, finding that broadcast media is still important as an amplifier and gatekeeper, but that it is susceptible to media activists working through participatory or nonprofessional media to co-create the news and influence the framing of major controversies. Our findings have implications for social change organizations that seek to harness advocacy campaigns to news stories, and for scholars studying media ecology and the networked public sphere.

A Rural Drought in a National Flood: Washington State Residents’ Assessments of Local News
Doug Hindman and Michael Beam| 2014

The ubiquity of national-level outlets creates the illusion of an abundance of news even as the number of local outlets declines. This study is a report of state and national surveys assessing local news by rural and non-rural residents of Washington state. The findings point to a lack of locally relevant content, not a lack of skills or interest among rural Washingtonians. Implications for rural Washington state citizens’ political knowledge and civic participation are discussed.

Ecosystems and Networks
Jeff Jarvis | 2014

An early appraisal of news ecosystems with a focus on New Jersey with a cameo for the nascent work of the Center for Cooperative Media!

The Communication Crisis in America, and How to Fix It
Mark Lloyd and Lewis A. Friedland | 2016

This book critiques U.S. public policy about communication and offers guidelines to improve public safety and create strong democratic communities. The lack of effective emergency communication, basic information about health care, education, jobs and the economy, and civic life is at a crisis state, creating problems for the whole community, not just a vulnerable few. The Communications Crisis in America is not because of changing markets or new technology, it is the failure of public policy. The authors include economists, sociologists, journalists, lawyers and a diverse group of media and communication scholars, all offering an urgent call to action and difficult, but achievable steps forward.

Journalism Innovation and the Ecology of News Production: Institutional Tendencies
Wilson Lowrey | 2012

This monograph develops and tests a news ecology model to help explain development and stasis of news forms and practices. The model predicts that emerging media form populations as they pursue similar resources and that later, forms and practices tend to become more similar and more legitimate to would-be entrants and to other institutions. The model is tested through an analysis of the health blog population and case studies of two city news environments. Results offered evidence that emerging media develop population forms that shift from an instrumental to an institutional orientation as they gain public legitimacy and become increasingly specialized.

Who’s Producing Local Journalism? Assessing Journalistic Output Across Different Outlet Types
Jessica Mahone, Qun Wang, Philip M. Napoli, Matthew Weber, and Katie McCollough | 2019

To understand the journalistic performance of different outlet types, this study analyzes each the story output of each outlet type relative to the outlet type’s numeric frequency. Doing this allows us to assess each outlet type’s news production relative to that outlet type’s prominence in the news ecosystem. To examine production in this way, ratios were calculated comparing the share of total stories, original stories, local stories, and stories addressing a critical information from each outlet type to each outlet type’s share of outlets.

The New Jersey Media Ecosystem: Distributed News in a Digital Age
Kathleen McCollough and C. W. Anderson | 2013

For a long time, thinking about the news usually involved thinking about either the individual journalists who reported the news, or the institutions where those individual journalists worked. Taking the perspective of news within a media ecosystem, on the other hand, tries to think about news production, circulation, and sharing within a more distributed, holistic context. In a media ecosystem, there are a wide variety of organizations and individuals who create publicly important information and the form of their interactions impacts the health and survival of others within the system.

A Guide to Assessing Your Local News Ecosystem: A toolkit to inform grantmaking and collaboration
Fiona Morgan | 2019

Commissioned by the Democracy Fund, this guide is designed to introduce some of the ideas and options and help you find a path to understanding your own community’s news and information ecosystem.

The Stories Not Told: A case study of the information needs of Siler City, North Carolina
Fiona Morgan | 2013

This case study examines a small, post-industrial city in a rural county at the periphery of two media markets, with two questions in mind: what are the community’s information needs, and how well does its information ecosystem serve those needs? It examines community characteristics and dynamics that contribute to a market failure for news in the hope of enlightening policy makers as to the levels of government intervention and, by extension, which policies may best correct it.

Nature’s Economy and News Ecology
Anthony Nadler | 2018

This essay challenges journalism scholars to confront critical ambiguities in the use of the news ecosystem metaphor in discourses on digital-age journalism. This metaphor is frequently used to suggest that news media take shape through spontaneous, self-ordering principles associated with ecological systems. At its worst, the news ecosystem metaphor simply stands for the news marketplace while, quite literally, naturalizing current trends in the diffusion and development of news practices. The intellectual history of the ecosystem concept shows its grounding in liberal economics and its association with a normative view that competitive individualism establishes a natural order. The conventional use of the ecosystem metaphor in debates about digital journalism frames the dynamics of news ecosystems as expressions of competing and symbiotic relations among news producers. This strips from view social, political, and economic decisions and norms that set the stage for the digital media landscape.

Assessing Local Journalism: News Deserts, Journalism Divides, and the Determinants of the Robustness of Local News
Philip M. Napoli, Matthew Weber, Katie McCollough, and Qun Wang | 2018

This analysis looks at the extent to which the news provided to communities by their local media outlets is original, local, and addresses critical information needs – utilizing a community sample size and news story corpus that far exceeds previous research on local journalism.

Assessing News Media Infrastructure: A State-Level Analysis
Philip M. Napoli, Ian Dunham, and Jessica Mahone | 2017

A comparative assessment of the news media infrastructure within each of the 50 states, derived from the number of news media outlets and news workers in each state, controlled by population size. This analysis gives us a sense of which states are faring better than others in terms of the robustness of their news media infrastructure.

Assessing the Health of Local Journalism Ecosystems: A Comparative Analysis of Three New Jersey Communities
Philip M. Napoli, Sarah Stonbely, Kathleen McCollough, and Bryce Renninger | 2015

This research examines the health of the local journalism ecosystems in three New Jersey communities: Newark, New Brunswick, and Morristown. The goal of this research was to develop and apply a set of reliable, scalable performance metrics intended to inform funders, policymakers, researchers, and industry professionals about the state of journalism in local communities and, ultimately, its connection to healthy democracy, and to help guide decision-making about possible areas of intervention.

The News Crisis Compared: The Impact of the Journalism Crisis on Local News Ecosystems in Toulouse (France) and Seattle (US)
Matthew Powers, Sandra Vera Zambrano, and Olivier Baisnee | 2015

This chapter presents a cross-national study of two local news ecosystems: Toulouse, France and Seattle, Washington. The authors ask how and in what ways the news media of these two interestingly similar cities have been impacted by the economic and technological transformations of the past decade, and examine how news organizations have responded to these changes.

Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman | 2012

How social networks, the personalized Internet, and always-on mobile connectivity are transforming—and expanding—social life.

Mapping Emerging News Networks: A Case Study of the San Francisco Bay Area
Daniel Ramos, Mehmet Hadi Gunes, Donica Mensing, and David M. Ryfe | 2013

The news and information system in the United States is undergoing a significant transformation. From a limited number of professional, major metropolitan newspapers, television and radio stations to a networked system of hundreds of small and medium size information sources. Structural changes in news production and distribution are significantly altering the supply and flow of news to citizens. Using network analysis, we seek to map changes in the news ecology of the San Francisco Bay area. In this study, we graph the relationships between 143 locally based news sites to examine connections between news organizations, between journalists and their sources and between users of the news sites.

Networked News, Racial Divides:
Sue Robinson | 2018

Against conventional wisdom, pervasive black-white disparities pair with vitriolic public conversation in politically progressive communities throughout America. Networked News, Racial Divides examines obstacles to public dialogues about racial inequality and opportunities for better discourse in mid-sized, liberal cities. The book narrates the challenges faced when talking about race through a series of stories about each community struggling with K-12 education achievement gaps. Media expert Sue Robinson applies Bourdieusian field theory to understand media ecologies and analyze whose voices get heard and whose get left out. She explores how privilege shapes discourse and how identity politics can interfere with deliberation. Drawing on network analysis of community dialogues, interviews with journalists, politicians, activists, and citizens and deep case study of five cities, this reflexive and occasionally narrative book chronicles the institutional, cultural and other problematic realities to amplifying voices of all people while also recommending strategies to move forward and build trust.

Mapping Local News in New England, and how the region compares to the rest of the country
Emily Roseman | 2020

This is a map of local news organizations based in and serving the six New England states. It was built as a part of the Solutions Journalism Network’s New England Local News Ecosystem Project, using data regarding news association membership.

Revising the communication mediation model for a new political communication ecology
Dhavan V Shah, Douglas M McLeod, Hernando Rojas, Jaeho Cho, Michael W Wagner, Lewis A Friedland | 2017

A long tradition of research focuses on conversation as a key catalyst for community integration and a focal mediator of media influence on participation. Changes in media systems, political environments, and electoral campaigning demand that these influences, and the communication mediation model, be revised to account for the growing convergence of media and conversation, heightened partisan polarization, and deepening social contentiousness in media politics. We propose a revised communication mediation model that continues to emphasize the centrality of face-to-face and online talk in democratic life, while considering how mediational and self-reflective processes that encourage civic engagement and campaign participation might also erode institutional legitimacy, foster distrust and partisan divergence, disrupting democratic functioning as a consequence of a new communication ecology.

Making News at The New York Times
Nikki Usher | 2014

This news ethnography brings to bear the overarching value clashes at play in a digital news world. The book argues that emergent news values are reordering the fundamental processes of news production. Immediacy, interactivity, and participation now play a role unlike any time before, creating clashes between old and new. These values emerge from the social practices, pressures, and norms at play inside the newsroom as journalists attempt to negotiate the new demands of their work. Immediacy forces journalists to work in a constant deadline environment, an ASAP world, but one where the vaunted traditions of yesterday’s news still appear in the next day’s print paper. Interactivity, inspired by the new user-computer directed capacities online and the immersive Web environment, brings new kinds of specialists into the newsroom, but exacts new demands upon the already taxed workflow of traditional journalists. And at time where social media presents the opportunity for new kinds of engagement between the audience and media, business executives hope for branding opportunities while journalists fail to truly interact with their readers.

Revising the communication mediation model for a new political communication ecology
Dhavan V Shah, Douglas M McLeod, Hernando Rojas, Jaeho Cho, Michael W Wagner, Lewis A Friedland | 2017

A long tradition of research focuses on conversation as a key catalyst for community integration and a focal mediator of media influence on participation. Changes in media systems, political environments, and electoral campaigning demand that these influences, and the communication mediation model, be revised to account for the growing convergence of media and conversation, heightened partisan polarization, and deepening social contentiousness in media politics. We propose a revised communication mediation model that continues to emphasize the centrality of face-to-face and online talk in democratic life, while considering how mediational and self-reflective processes that encourage civic engagement and campaign participation might also erode institutional legitimacy, foster distrust and partisan divergence, disrupting democratic functioning as a consequence of a new communication ecology.

The Flow of Digital News in a Network of Sources, Authorities, and Hubs
Matthew S. Weber and Peter Monge | 2011

This article presents an analysis of the flow of information in a network of online news sites. Social network theory and research on hyperlinked networks of Web pages are used to develop a model of information flow among Web sites. Kleinberg’s authority-hub model is extended by introducing sources of information in the network. Significant support was found for a Source–Authority–Hub model, which shows the source, directionality, routing, and destination of news information flow through a network of authorities and hubs. This model demonstrates the ability of key Web sites to control the flow of news and information. Applications of the model to over-time data have the potential to predict future changes in the online news industry.