Research, handbooks & reports

New North-South Issues in the Digital Economy (CETRI)

The production, development and dissemination of digital technologies are raising concerns - political, economic, and environmental - that are increasingly being debated. However, their consequences on North-South relations are still too often ignored. Yet they run the risk of deepening inequalities, while creating new forms of dependence and exploitation.

More than money: Rethinking media viability in the digital age (DW Akademie)

This paper presents a new model for Media Viability at a time when media outlets face enormous difficulties delivering quality reporting while staying financially afloat. Many of these challenges come in the wake of the digital transformation, which has disrupted busi-ness models and changed media consumption habits. We argue that what is needed is a broader view of Media Viability, one that looks beyond the money. Our model looks at five dimensions—economics, politics, content, technology, and the community—and three levels: media organizations, networks, and the overall framework. This allows for the development of more effective Media Viability strategies and projects.

Money, money, money: Taxing tech may be key to the survival of journalism (Ethical Journalism Network)

The EJN has begun to work on ways in which media can improve their performance. Our ethical media audits provide a route map towards good governance in the digital age and our promotion of core values and standards to combat hate-speech give a flavour of the editorial culture that must prevail if independent journalism is to get access to the new forms of funding.

Media Development Indicators (UNESCO)

In accordance with its standard-setting role, IPDC has developed a comprehensive set of Media Development Indicators (MDIs) aimed at enabling the assessment of media landscapes at national level. These indicators, that cover all aspects of media development, are currently being applied in various countries worldwide to identify their specific needs in view of guiding the formulation of media-related policies and improving the targeting of media development efforts.

La convergencia de medios, telecomunicaciones e Internet en la perspectiva de la competencia: Hacia un enfoque multicomprensivo (UNESCO Montevideo)

After consulting Latin American regulators in the area of defense of competition, specialists in the region in the field and presenting an updated state of the art of the debate about the relevance of economic competition approaches to seek clear answers for the new problems of a convergent environment in communications, the document makes recommendations with the aim of improving the design of public policies both in the field of information and communication services, and in those that serve economic competition, harmonizing fields and disciplines that were not conceived in an articulated way.In this context, the policy paper is proposed as an input for public policies and a contribution to optimize the understanding of current phenomena with deep repercussions in the culture, information and com-munication of societies and individuals.

It’s Not Just the Content, It’s the Business Model: Democracy’s Online Speech Challenge (Ranking Digital Rights)

This report, the first in a two-part series, articulates the connection between surveillance-based business models and the health of democracy. Drawing from Ranking Digital Rights’s extensive research on corporate policies and digital rights, we examine two overarching types of algorithms, give examples of how these technologies are used both to propagate and prohibit different forms of online speech (including targeted ads), and show how they can cause or catalyze social harm, particularly in the context of the 2020 U.S. election. We also highlight what we don’t know about these systems, and call on companies to be much more transparent about how they work.


Inside the chaos of brand safety technology (Branded)

Every day, a handful of tech companies decide how billions of advertising dollars will be spent on the web. We don’t see these decisions take place, but brand safety algorithms scan every page and every piece of content we look at to decide whether it’s “safe” before serving an ad.

These millions of little verdicts add up. They determine who on the web gets monetized — and who gets blocked.

It’s a big responsibility, and it appears, one they do not take seriously. While brand safety tech companies have been extremely secretive about how it all works, it turns out they have also been unwittingly sharing their own proprietary data all this time.

Inflection Point: Impact, Threats, and Sustainability – A study of Latin American digital media entrepreneurs (SembraMedia – PDFs: EN, ES, PT)

This report is aimed at helping the founders of digital media startups better understand the trends, threats, and best practices that affect them. It is also designed to help investors, foundations, and journalism organizations to appreciate the value, vulner-ability, and impact of this fast-growing media ecosystem. Although we cannot share their pro-prietary data, we’ve included our top-level find-ings in this report.

How Big Is the Reporting Gap? To save journalism, we must understand what we’ve lost — and what’s worth saving (Free Press)

The newspaper industry, policymakers and advocates for quality journalism must acknowledge that the internet’s ability to lower entry barriers for content production and distribution renders the old newspaper commercial-business model inoperable. We can lament the changes brought by the move of information (and ad revenues) online, but that won’t change the fact that newspapers no longer have a near- monopoly on the production and distribution of daily-updated local news and information.

Holding Platforms Accountable: Online Speech in the Age of Algorithms (Open Technology Institute/New America)

Internet platforms are increasingly adopting artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools in order to shape the content we see and engage with online. However, there is often a lack of transparency around how these automated tools are leveraged. This raises questions regarding how algorithmic tools impact user expression, how platforms safeguard user rights, and how these companies can be held accountable for their practices.

This project at New America’s Open Technology Institute seeks to explore how internet platforms use automated tools in four key areas, and how companies, policymakers, civil society, and researchers can promote greater fairness, accountability, and transparency around algorithmic decision-making.

Guide to audience revenue and engagement (Tow Center)

This report is intended to aid staff from news organizations and media entrepreneurs who wish to grow their revenue by deepening interactions with their audiences. It’s based on hundreds of conversations and interviews with journalists, managers, and members themselves, including newsroom fieldwork and observation, as well as focus groups with supporters of news sites. We use these findings to share strategic and tactical considerations for building audience revenue programs. We also share detailed examples of ways that news organizations around the world are experimenting with new approaches to raising funds and supporting myriad forms of audience participation.

Google, the media patron: How the digital giant woos journalism (Otto Brenner Foundation)

The study describes how Google has funnelled more than 200 million euro in cash gifts to European media since 2013, while at the same time the company has resisted po-litical efforts in Europe to force it to share advertising revenue with ailing publishing houses. Google’s first fund was created in France in 2013 to appease publishers call-ing for a “Google tax” on digital advertising. This provided a template for the future, as the study’s analysis of the origins of the Google News Initiative shows. The study de-scribes how Google’s attention and gifts have transformed the relationship between the Silicon Valley company and German publishing houses. Findings are based on anonymised interviews with 25 German media executives and journalists covering dig-ital media, a data analysis of 645 projects funded by Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI) in Europe between 2015 and 2019, as well as a survey on the use of Google tools among German media houses. The research is flanked by an interview with two key figures in Google’s European news division and supported by an in-depth analysis of source material on origins of Google’s journalism initiative.

Google Benefits from News Content (News Media Alliance)

The following study analyzeshow Google uses and benefits from news. The main components of the study are: a qualitative overview of Google’s usage of news content, an analysis of news content on Google Search, and an estimate of revenue Google receives from news

It is imperative that the philanthropic community collectively seek to better understand how the media funding landscape is being shaped by a variety of actors and stakeholders around the world. Improving the mechanisms for capturing and analyzing global media funding trends is not only relevant for foundations focused on traditional media issues such as freedom of expression and journalism support, but also for donors working on healthcare, economic security, environmental issues and human rights. As the reach of media extends, it impacts all issues and areas of philanthropic giving.With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Media Impact Funders has been researching worldwide trends, challenges and opportunities for media funding. The research in this report draws on a variety of sources: data from the media data map through 2015, results from a survey of leading organizations engaged in funding media-related projects around the world, analyses of existing literature and reports, and insights offered by experts across a range of media funding issues.

Global Expression Report 2018/19: Monday and the Media (ARTICLE 19)

A favourable economic environment is key for both the exercise of media freedom and a diverse media landscape. However, media are under serious economic pressure and challenges, including loss of audience share (to social media) and losses in advertising revenue.

Getting to the Source of Infodemics: It’s the Business Model (Ranking Digital Rights)

We offer some thoughts about how civil society stakeholders, including researchers, journalists, and advocacy and grassroots organizations, are critical to addressing accountability gaps, especially in the absence of effective regulation and oversight. We also explain why companies must proactively engage with civil society as a part of their efforts to mitigate the negative social impacts of their business models.

Funding the News: Foundations and Nonprofit Media (Shorenstein Center)

Several funding categories we assessed were not of primary interest to our study but represented activities or initiatives intended to enhance the field of journalism and its public understanding. These other categories of grants reflect the tough choices that funders face, as prioritizing one of these areas, even if to improve the practice and reach of journalism in society, may take away from direct support for news production.

Funding Journalism, Finding Innovation: Success Stories and Ideas for Creative, Sustainable Partnerships (Shorenstein Center)

Here at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, we’re focused on the nexus of media, politics and public policy. As such, we have an unwavering commitment to advancing journalism both as a trade and national resource. To address these issues and challenges in the space, we have collaborated with Media Impact Funders—a network of funders who support media and technology in the public interest—to produce this resource, which serves to highlight innovative funding methods in journalism. We couldn’t be prouder to team up with such an important organization as MIF. The work they’re doing to promote journalism across the country is absolutely critical, and they have been—and continue to be—a tremendous partner to Shorenstein.While this guide shows only a small sampling of how funders and publishers are working together to financially sustain the fourth estate, we hope that it nonetheless serves as a starting point for your own work by providing solid examples of groundbreaking funding efforts—ones that are both pioneering and effective.

From start to success: A handbook for digital media entrepreneurs (DW Akademie)

The handbook presents a three-step approach: the start phase, growth phase and the media viability phase. It highlights an approach that focuses not only on revenue streams — an area that many startups put too much emphasis on — but aspects of the business such as human resources and audience engagement, which are crucial for achieving media viability.

Each chapter of the handbook explores one of the three steps in depth. In the first chapter, we hear from six startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). They share their experiences of turning an idea into a reality and share the knowledge they learned during the start phase focusing on revenue streams, audience engagement, collaboration and donors' motives.

In chapter two, seven startups from the Asia region dive into structure and growth. There is a particular focus on diversifying revenue streams, staffing and internal organization, identifying a core mission and capitalizing on your strengths.

Chapter three features eight startups from Latin American countries who impart their knowledge on sustaining the success they have achieved. It rounds up the important lessons that digital media entrepreneurs should carry with them at all times. Community building, producing a quality product and involving the whole team in decision making processes are key.

Friend and Foe: The Platform Press at the Heart of Journalism (Tow Center/CJR)

The relationship between technology platforms and news publishers has endured a fraught 18 months. Even so, the external forces of civic and regulatory pressure are hastening a convergence between the two at an accelerated rate beyond what we saw when we published our first report from this study, “The Platform Press: How Silicon Valley Reengineered Journalism,” in March 2017. Journalism has played a critical part in pushing for accountability into the practices of companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, yet newsrooms are increasingly oriented toward understanding and leveraging platforms as part of finding a sustainable future.

In the latest phase of our multi-year research into the relationship between platforms and publishers, we found that despite negative rhetoric and sentiment in newsrooms toward technology companies, there is a rapid and ongoing merging in the functions of publishers and platforms, and an often surprisingly high level of involvement from platform companies in influencing news production.

Freedom and Accountability A Transatlantic Framework for Moderating Speech Online (Annenberg Public Policy Center, UPenn)

Over the three multiday sessions during a yearlong journey together, the views of many members evolved as we set our course during a rocky period for tech/government relations in Europe and North America. Conducting our sessions under the Chatham House Rule fostered trust that facilitated candid and productive debate. We did not seek unanimity on every conclusion or recommendation, recognizing that diverse perspectives could not always be reconciled. This final report of the Transatlantic Working Group reflects views expressed during our discussions and charts a path forward.

Framing Brief on Content Moderation Challenges in time of COVID-19 (Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network)

The I&JPN Secretariat Framing Brief aims to help actors analyse the complex policy issues surrounding content moderation in relation to COVID-19. The document includes a set of framing questions all actors can use to analyze content moderation in this exceptional context and evaluate the impact. The COVID-19 crisis sheds a new light on the role of internet intermediaries as information service providers and commerce platforms. Major internet platforms have become important information sources and many have announced that due to the inability of their moderators to access the necessary tools from home, they will need to rely more on AI moderation tools. Online marketplaces and e-commerce infrastructure platforms are also facing a proliferation of fake cures and profiteering. The pandemic brings to the fore some important and concrete issues in direct relation to the work of the stakeholders in the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network. Building on interactions with Members of the Content & Jurisdiction Program Contact Group, the I&JPN Secretariat has developed a Framing Brief on Content Moderation Challenges in time of COVID-19. Several years of experience facilitating policy discussions among public, private and civil society actors in the I&JPN’s three Programs, demonstrate the importance of common framing questions to properly address an issue, design policy solutions and evaluate their impact.

Firming Up Democracy’s Soft Underbelly: Authoritarian Influence and Media Vulnerability (NED)

Over the past decade, Russia, China, and other authoritarian regimes have invested tens of billions of dollars in media enterprises and information initiatives to manipulate, distort, and censor the global information environment. While the perpetrators may have different goals or motives, they often adopt the same tactic: buy what you can—and befuddle the rest.

Facebook Friends? The Impact of Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Changes on Nonprofit Publishers (Shorenstein Center)

In 2006, Facebook created a new product that would profoundly alter thenews-consuming habits of many, shift how news organizations thought aboutdistributing digital content, and even influence the course of elections andmodern democracy. The company introduced the “News Feed,” as a centralplace where a user could see all the changes that had happened on the socialnetwork while they had been away (Sanghvi 2006). It began with updatessuch as who had become friends with whom, which groups users had joined,or (always popular with college students) who had changed their relation-ship status. As Slate’s senior technology reporter Will Oremus put it, theNews Feed was “a hub for updates about your friends’ activities on the site”(Oremus 2016).


Essential Platforms (Stanford Technology Law Review)

Digital platforms are the railroads of the modern era. In the early twentieth century, a vast railroad network stretched from coast to coast, forming the backbone of commerce in the United States. Bridges and tunnels were essential to reach certain destinations and, sometimes, entire regions. Control over these bottlenecks in railroad networks enabled gatekeeping monopolists to exclude competitors from crucial markets. In response, the Supreme Court imposed a novel remedy by granting competitors access to this critical infrastructure under the Sherman Act—an approach known as the ‘essential facilities’ doctrine.

Today, digital platforms serve as essential facilities for the digital economy—a sector that is omnipresent in modern life. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and others control the bottlenecks of the internet and provide services to end-consumers through that infrastructure—in direct competition with independent businesses. Platforms leverage their exclusive control over search engines, e-commerce platforms, and app-stores to exclude rivals from markets for digital content, goods, and services thereby harming consumers and stifling innovation. A promising remedy is to grant competitors fair and equal access to these essential digital platforms. Yet the essential facilities doctrine has fallen prey to excessive judicial trust in self-correcting markets and the ensuing curtailment of antitrust enforcement.

It is high time to revive, renew, and expand the essential facilities doctrine in the digital economy. As with railroads, the doctrine can once again open mar-kets while preserving network-based efficiencies. Economic insights into the optimal design of intellectual property rights provide valuable lessons for structuring an essential facilities doctrine for the digital age: creating and protecting monopolies, via exclusive rights or otherwise, can incentivize innovation. However, any monopoly must be limited in scope and duration to ensure competition. Building on these notions from IP, I suggest a two-tiered remedy: At its first level, regulators and courts must bar platforms from discriminating and self-preferencing. At its second level, after an appropriate amortization period, anti-trust enforcers must upend platform-monopolies entirely, by forcing interoperability between platforms. Overall, this renewed version of a judicial doctrine from the early twentieth century will strengthen competition and spur innovation in the digital markets that have come to define modern commerce.


Digital Trade Rules: A disastrous new constitution for the global economy written by and for Big Tech (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung)

The largest corporations in the history of the world – Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft – are seeking to use ‘trade’ rules to rig the rules of the global (digital) economy to enable them to collect more data, exercise more control over our lives and their workers, and amass ever more profit. More than 80 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently negotiating a new agreement on digital trade based on these proposals. This paper seeks to explain how these corporations operate in order to achieve their goals; what the potential impacts of the rules would be on workers, citizens, communities, developing countries, public services, safety and security, and democracy itself; what the alternatives are; and what we can do to stop this mass corporate takeover.

This paper was written towards the end of 2019. Today, in 2020, the world seems a different place, as we collectively experience the coronavirus crisis and new awareness about issues of racism and policy brutality. The crises have brought about new, and highlighted existing, urgent problems – often exacerbated by Big Tech’s iron grip on our economic and social lives.

Digital journalism & new business models: An overview of the business models and financing of news media and digital newsroom structures (EJF)

The weakened sustainability has also lead to a growing concentration of media ownership and has resulted in a less diverse news environment. How can journalists’ organisations support and enable their members and freelances with regard to aspects such as author’ rights, decent working conditions and fair remuneration? How can they still organise a virtual workforce or digital nomads – collectively? In solidarity? And – are they able and willing to manage the change? Those are the big challenges and the real threats that a short paper cannot investigate in full depth – and in a broad and diverse European context. Thus, it concentrates on questions journalists’ organisations – unions and associations – should be able to understand and answer. This paper examines some basic principles and promising models for financing quality journalism in general – and briefly describes alternative business models that work

Digital Economy Report 2019 – Value Creation and Capture: Implications for Developing Countries (UNCTAD)

The Digital Economy Report (DER) (formerly known as the Information Economy Report) this year examines the scope for value creation and capture in the digital economy by developing countries. It gives special attention to opportunities for these countries to take advantage of the data-driven economy as producers and innovators – but also to the constraints they face – notably with regard to digital data and digital platforms. This topic is timely, as only a decade remains for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Digital disruptions have already led to the creation of enormous wealth in record time, but this is highly concentrated in a small number of countries, companies and individuals. Meanwhile, digitalization has also given rise to fundamental challenges for policymakers in countries at all levels of development. Harnessing its potential for the many, and not just the few, requires creative thinking and policy experimentation. And it calls for greater global cooperation to avoid widening the income gap.

Digital diplomacy: Technology governance for developing countries (Pathways for Prosperity Commission – summary | PDF)

Current approaches to governing, managing, and regulating digital technology, such as they exist, are dominated by a small number of countries, and based on the priorities of developed nations. The business models and digital architectures designed by firms can have far-reaching impacts, and these are inherently shaped by the regulatory environment. Despite this, surprisingly little attention is paid to how poorer or resource-constrained countries should approach digital regulation – either within their own countries or as an increasingly pressing transnational issue.The Pathways for Prosperity Commission undertook a consultation with policymakers in developing countries to identify their key technology policy priorities, specifically in terms of international coordination.1Emerging governance mechanisms around the digital economy will be pivotal for those seeking to make the most of the opportunities on offer. However, to date, developing countries’ priorities have not been heard. Specifically, the consultation sought to identify what rules and policies to govern cross-border provision of digital services would help to ensure that all countries share in the gains of the data-driven global economy.For developing countries, governance and regulation for the new economy is a daunting task, but concerted international cooperation can help. As our analysis of the consultation reveals, international coordination presents an opportunity for developing countries to exercise their own voices and develop a governance model that works for them.

Digital Deceit II: A Policy Agenda to Fight Disinformation on the Internet (Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy)

The crisis for democracy posed by digital disinformation demands a new socialcontract for the internet rooted in transparency, privacy and competition. This isthe conclusion we have reached through careful study of the problem of digitaldisinformation and reflection on potential solutions. This study builds off our firstreport—Digital Deceit—which presents an analysis of how the structure andlogic of the tracking-and-targeting data economy undermines the integrity ofpolitical communications. In the intervening months, the situation has onlyworsened—confirming our earlier hypotheses—and underlined the need for arobust public policy agenda.

Digital media platforms did not cause the fractured and irrational politics thatplague modern societies. But the economic logic of digital markets too oftenserves to compound social division by feeding pre-existing biases, affirming falsebeliefs, and fragmenting media audiences. The companies that control thismarket are among the most powerful and valuable the world has ever seen. Wecannot expect them to regulate themselves. As a democratic society, we mustintervene to steer the power and promise of technology to benefit the manyrather than the few.

Digital Deceit: The Technologies Behind Precision Propaganda on the Internet (Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy)

Machine learning algorithms are already integrated into targeted advertising platforms and complex data analytics. Stronger forms of AI will be available in the near term. These advances will greatly increase the potency of disinformation operations by enhancing the effectiveness of behavioral data tracking, audience segmentation, message targeting/testing, and systemic campaign management.

Our paper concludes with a series of recommendations to guide corporate reform, consumer empowerment and new public policy development. Current efforts to promote transparency in the advertising ecosystem are important steps. But these are only the first moves in a long and difficult challenge. We offer a set of principles to guide the path forward as well as starting points for potential regulatory intervention. These include changes to election law, data privacy protections, and competition policy. The nature of this crisis in media and democracy requires an ambitious approach to reform from Silicon Valley C-Suites to Capitol Hill to the handsets of everyday internet users. The American political resilience has through the ages hinged on our implicit commitment that markets must take a backseat to democracy.

Defending Independent Media: A Comprehensive Analysis of Aid Flows (CIMA)

When donors provide assistance to the media sector, they frequently back projects that aim to strengthen the media’s contribution to good governance in some way or another. This kind of funding is consistent with recent declarations made by the international community on the importance of protecting independent media for the sake of democracy and development. Yet, in the bigger picture, donors still only commit a tiny fraction to this sector and appear to be responding slowly, if at all, to the unique challenges of press freedom in the digital age.

  • Media assistance represented on average just .3 percent of total official development aid (ODA) between 2010 and 2015.

  • Donor flows to media are small, but are holding steady.

  • China is an increasingly active player in terms of global media aid flows, although its interventions are largely focused on developing infrastructure and take the form of loans rather than development grants.

Data as a Contested Economic Resource: Framing the Issues (SSRN)

Big data, exploited by ever more powerful AI and machine-learning engines that extract previously unattainable information, is being monetized in various ways and is underpinning the market valuation of today’s most valuable corporations. This has made data-generated rents the principal bone of contention in today’s economy, alongside the negative externalities that the unregulated and undisciplined use of data are creating. In this note, I develop the case that the contest for the rents generated in the emerging data-driven economy will powerfully influence the social order within and international relations externally. Further, I argue that there is no good historical analogue for data as an essential capital asset and thus there is no good historical analogue for a regulatory framework to control the negative externalities to which it gives rise or to equitably share the benefits that it generates. Regulation won’t wait because the issues are pressing urgently on societies as the implicit social contracts that preserve political stability are rapidly eroding, setting the stage for disruptive political change. Hence, we are into a phase of experimenting with regulatory approaches while still working out the guiding principles.

Confronting the Crisis in Independent Media: A Role for International Assistance (CIMA)

This report describes how that may change as international donors devise way to provide greater support to the media sector.

Competition issues in the digital economy (UNCTD)

Large technology companies have penetrated many aspects of people’s lifestyles, from shopping to social interaction. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have replaced oil and gas and telecommunications firms among the top 10 global companies based on marketcapitalization in 2018. Such digital platforms provide many benefits, but have also gained significant control ofconsumer data, which confers market power. This has raised not only competition-related concerns, but also concerns related to consumer protection and privacy. Many countries are studying the negative effects of the market power of these platforms and seeking ways to deal with the related challenges.This note focuses on the features specific to digital platforms and their implications for competition law and policy. It identifies the areas of competition law in which there is need for adaptation, to deal with negative outcomes that may arise from dominant digital platforms. The note presents some policy options for protecting and promoting competition in the digital economy.

Committee for the Study of Digital Platforms: Market Structure and Antitrust Subcommittee (University of Chicago)

The purpose of these preliminary reports is to identify what are the new challenges digital platforms pose to the economic and political structure of our countries. These reports also try to identify the set of possible tools that might address these challenges. Yet, there is potential disagreement among the members of the committees on which of these problems is most troubling, which tools might work best, whether some tools will work at all or even whether the damage they might produce is larger than the problem they are trying to fix. Not all committee members agree with all the findings or proposals contained in this report. The purpose of these preliminary reports, thus, is not to unanimously provide a perfect list of policy fixes but to identify conceptual problems and solutions and start an academic discussion from which robust policy recommendations can eventually be drafted.

Challenges of Competition and Regulation in the Telecom Sector (Economic and Political Weekly)

The telecommunications sector has come a long way from its perceived status as a natural monopoly to a competitive multiplayer industry. As competitive forces, both from within the telecom industry and the surrounding digital ecosystem, continue to redefine the sector’s dynamics, it creates new challenges for regulation and competition enforcement. Calling for fresh thinking on the respective roles of the sectoral regulator, the competition authority and the need for greater synergies between them, a model for voluntary cooperation between the authorities is suggested.

Business Models for Local News: A Field Scan (Shorenstein Center)

It’s well understood that the traditional print advertising business model that onceenabled high-quality, local news is under extreme threat. Meanwhile, platforms such as Facebook and Google increasingly dominate how people access information, garneringthe majority of the digital advertising revenue that previously flowed to publishers. Mostsay that local journalism is in crisis. But maybe it’s also at a crossroads.On May 18, 2018, theShorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at theHarvard Kennedy School andThe Lenfest Institute for Journalism gathered industryleaders from news organizations, platforms, and philanthropic sectors to discuss prospects for finding and seeding new business models for local journalism—and howbest to support those working in communities across the country to facilitate change.

Breaking up Big Tech: Separation of its Data, Cloud and Intelligence Layers (IT for Change)

igital economy paradigm must be understood in its significant discontinuities with the industrial age. Regulation of digital economy needs to focus on the central role of data and data-derived intelligence. Competition regulators either ignore these key factors, or simply take a superficial view. A relatively better understanding about them is developing in the somewhat distant realm of technology governance; with its new focus on data sharing, data infrastructures, cloud neutrality, open digital ecosystems, domestic AI competencies, and public interest AI. Technology governance, however, normally does not have the enforcement teeth of competition regulators.Bringing together these two governance or regulatory traditions – about competition and technology, the paper proposes a composite new regulatory framework for the digital economy. Digital ecosystems are presented as the key new structural feature of the digital economy, increasingly superseding IP firms led industrial value chains. The focus is then drawn on the effective economic governance of data, cloud computing and AI – the building blocks of these digital ecosystems.


Beyond Fixing Facebook: How the multibillion-dollar business behind online advertising could reinvent public media, revitalize journalism, and strengthen democracy (Free Press)

In this paper, Free Press measures the rise of the online-platform business model against the fall of independent news reporting and calls for an economic realignment that recognizes the vital role noncommercial journalism can play in a democracy

Best Practices on Platforms’ Implementation of the Right to an Effective Remedy (DCPR)

This document was based primarily on the analysis of the contractual agreementsthatInternet users are required to adhere toin order to become platform users. Platform operators typically detail in these agreements, broadly defined as “Terms of Service” (Tos),9the rules and mechanisms applicable to alternative dispute resolutionmechanisms. Moreover,analysts where asked toverify, to the extent possible,the concrete implementation of those mechanisms by simulating adispute in the platforms of choice.

Are social media companies motivated to be good corporate citizens? Examination of the connection between corporate social responsibility and social media safety (Telecommunications Policy)

This paper explores the connection between corporate social responsibility and social media safety. By examining the legal framework governing social platforms in the United States and case studies of online harms, we explore whether current U.S. laws and company content moderation policies are effective in eliminating content (revenge porn and acts of terrorism) that is universally agreed to be harmful. Finally, the paper makes a number of suggestions for improvements in policy.


A Playbook for Launching a Local, Nonprofit News Outlet (Shorenstein Center)

Each section of this playbook describes these steps in greater detail, addressing what the work is, why it’s important, and how you can get started. The approaches described in this playbook are not one-size-fits-all. While many fundamentals for building a successful venture will apply universally, every market and topic is different. Additionally, some subjects and geographies may simply lack sufficient audience interest to operatesustainably. The practices outlined in this playbook can help you identify your competitiveadvantages and create a business model that leverages them to build a healthy, sustainable news organization.

A Landscape Study of Emerging Local News Models Across America (Shorenstein Center)

Given the difficult economic reality and limited opportunities for capital, it seems nearly impossible for there to be innovation in the local market. This said, there are limited signs of progress.For the purpose of this landscape study, we have focused on two types of local news: digital startups in local news — both nonprofits and for-profits — along with the purchase of legacy newspapers and magazines by wealthy owners.

A Human-Centric Digital Manifesto for Europe: How the Digital Transformation Can Serve the Public Interest (OSF)

The digital revolution is radically changing every aspect of human life in the 21st century and it’s essential that regulators address the challenges this transformation brings. The new European Commission should look beyond digital single market issues, and focus on creating new rights-based policies and regulations based on freedom, democracy, equality, and rule of law to ensure that existing offline rights are protected online.

2019 Internet Society Global Internet Report: Consolidation in the Internet Economy (ISOC)

Consolidation is not a new phenomenon, but often a natural evolution as industries and markets mature. The Internet is changing. From the underlying infrastructure to the way users engage, it is evolving in many ways.

Pay Models for Online News in the US and Europe: 2019 Update (Reuters Institute)

More consumers can be persuaded to pay for online news, but only if content is distinctive and the user experience is great. What precisely are consumers’ expectations? And, what dictates their propensity to spend on news? This report explores these questions, and reveals some surprising and promising observations such as:

Younger people might be more prepared to pay for news, but which model(s) do they prefer?

  • Those who pay, do so for many reasons, including quality; brand, and convenience.

  • Despite very little public awareness or sympathy for the funding problems of the news industry, there is interest in other business models.

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