New study to explore media diversity in Southern California

A project exploring diversity and accessibility of media within the greater Los Angeles area is underway at USC Annenberg. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the study is using a national panel of experts to discover new approaches to measuring participation and diversity in communication and media.

Following up on the Federal Communications Commission report released last summer titled “The Information Needs of Communities,” which included extensive research conducted by a team of USC Annenberg scholars, the project will consider methodologies to measure and create public policy that recognize how emerging technologies, shifting markets and increasingly diverse communities affect access to local news and information.   

“This project builds on the recommendations made in the earlier report regarding diversity in and of media,” said Carola Weil, USC Annenberg’s director of international and strategic partnerships. “We are combining scholarship and evidence-based research with real-world experiences and information, to provide a deeper understanding of diversity in a digital, distributed media environment, and consider how different communities use ethnic, local, mainstream and public media.”  A summary report of the findings from a two-day meeting as well as contributions by individual experts on alternative approaches to the question of measuring participation in media writ large is expected to be released by the summer of 2012.

The study is one of 11 being conducted at leading universities, in an effort to take action on the FCC’s report, the most comprehensive look at media policy in a generation. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York are dedicating more than $800,000 to help implement the report’s recommendations, including projects to examine how tax law is affecting nonprofit media, to create a plan for state-specific C-Spans and to develop reliable metrics on media philanthropy.

“As America grows, diversity becomes ever more central,” said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s senior adviser to the president. “The great Bob Maynard put it this way: Our goal is to give all Americans front door access to the truth.”

USC Annenberg oversees several projects in its diverse, local community that provide information in the public interest. Some of the projects serving as models for investigation and replication are Metamorphosis, Alhambra Source, the Boyle Heights Beat, Intersections South L.A., Neon Tommy, and Mobile Voices/Voces Móviles.

“We take very seriously our role and responsibility as an innovator and pioneer in community-based journalism,” said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III.  “We are excited to play a role in giving greater voice to communities in shaping the future of news.”