Public Media 2.0: Digital Media Activities

Members of the CPB board of directors held a retreat in June 2008 to educate themselves on the challenges and opportunities facing public broadcasting in the new digital media landscape that has come to be known as “public media 2.0.” Leaders in the public broadcasting system – both television and radio – as well as from the private sector and academia contributed to the discussion.

To lay the groundwork for developing strategies to encourage innovation in digital media, CPB subsequently began a program of research into topics such as: public media’s current digital content and service offerings, best practices in specific sectors such as journalism and education, and state-of-the-art measurement techniques for digital media usage and impact.

In projects completed to date, CPB commissioned researchers and analysts to survey:

  • digital content and service offerings among U.S. public broadcasters, and
  • best practices in digital journalism, both within and outside the public media community and both within the U.S. and abroad.

Participants in the first two Aspen Institute Roundtables on Public Service Media – which were designed to engage a variety of stakeholders in the future of public media in exploring new approaches to creating, funding, managing and delivering public service media – discussed preliminary findings from both of these studies.

During April 2009, CPB also solicited the views of many public broadcasting station executives about public media 2.0 in a series of wide-ranging “dynamic inquiry” sessions designed to explore a variety of current and emerging issues within the industry.

Current Digital Media Activities Within U.S. Public Broadcasting

Gupta Consulting, Arlington, Virginia

CPB sought to assess the extent of current content and service offerings and to learn something about providers’ strategic outlook, investment of resources, and knowledge about current usage.

Researchers found that major producers have developed extensive Web sites, and have incorporated RSS, streaming, podcasts and searchable databases, but that most stations have neither extensive offerings nor any objective measures of usage, user demographics, or even the extent of their own spending on providing such offerings. The also found that the dominant ‘business model’ for current offerings is project-specific foundation-grant funding.

The research included: a literature review of prior research, scan of Web sites online, and fielding of an e-mail/online survey to inventory current digital new media activities of public broadcast stations and leading non-station public broadcast program producers and distributors.

Best Practices in Digital Journalism

Center for Social Media, American University

CPB sought to learn what experts generally view as best practices in digital journalism, both within and outside the public media community and both within the U.S. and abroad; to what extent those best practices are being implemented by U.S. public broadcasting organizations, and – if they are not yet widely implemented – what are the most daunting barriers to, and the most promising incentives for, their adoption.

Researchers found that news audiences (i.e., the users of news services across all media) are gravitating toward accessing news differently – online and using mobile platforms – and toward forming “vertical” (issue- or topic-defined) networked communities. They also reported that sustainable business models for digital journalism remain elusive. Of the eight best practices identified in the study, only three (and to a lesser extent, one more) have been seriously enough adopted or explored by U.S. public broadcasting organizations that several public broadcasters were among the 10 exemplary practitioners listed for each best practice.

This research included a literature review and interviews with a panel of recognized experts to identify best practices in new-media journalism.

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CPB promotes the growth and development of public media in communities throughout America.

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CPB awards grants to stations and independent producers to create programs and services.