Thursday, October 11, 2007

Introducing SSRC's Media Research Hub

It's always worthwhile keeping an eye out on what the Social Science Resource Council is up to. The New York-based research organization focuses on a wide range of public policy issues and has recently built up momentum in the area of media research and media reform largely through the efforts of their "Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Sphere" program. Seeking to insure that debates about media ownership, broadband access, digital broadcasting, community media and other crucial infrastructures of public life are shaped by high quality research and an understanding and consideration of the public interest, the Necessary Knowledge program takes a four pronged approach to connecting the academic and advocacy communities through a Collaborative Grants Program, the Data Consortium, Global Networking and Capacity Building, and the Media Research Hub.

Principal activities represented on the Research Hub are:

  • The Resource Database, a community-editable tool for mapping and navigating the media and communications field

  • The Data Consortium for Media and Communications Policy, which works to expand access to datasets about the media and communications environment

  • The Collaborative Grants project, which includes research fellowship competitions and mechanisms for signaling research needs within the community
Most ambitious are the Data Consortium's goals which are organized around the following objectives:
  • Improve educational and other non-profit access to commercially-produced datasets, especially through cooperation with commercial data providers
  • Facilitate projects that address persistent data gaps in our understanding of the public sphere
  • Expand researcher engagement with datasets, in part by collecting and disseminating information about the uses and terms of access of different datasets
  • Advocate for the principle that public policy should be based on publicly-available data

The program is run in partnership with the Center for International Media Action (CIMA) and the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center at Fordham University.

But back to the Media Research Hub! Tool around in it, appreciate it not only for what it is but for what it can become. Get involved if you have resources to share, a profile to add, etc. The system is designed to accommodate community editing with minimal moderation. If you would like to get even more involved, feel free to write Joe Karaganis, Necessary Knowledge's Program Director, with questions or suggestions.

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