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The Open Society Foundations‘ Mapping Digital Media programme has been mapping the macro framework relevant to this micro exploration — the state, conditions and challenges of digital media landscapes in some 55 countries.

The US report was published early on in 2011, the Swedish report a while ago as well, and the India report —  yesterday.  (A project to produce the Finnish report has just received funding from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation!)

How can these reports inform the micro-level, personal or personalized reflections of this project?

First, the basic figures of internet and mobile phone penetration tell us a lot. What chart might represent what country?

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And yet, looking at the conclusions of these studies, one issue become clear: Digitalization does not bring diversity — unless we explicitly demand it and work for it, as citizens, content-creators, consumers. Another contradiction: Infinite possibilites – more of the same.

From the SWE report:

Pluralism of voices in the media is variable. On the one hand, UGC on digital platforms is increasing dramatically, both on social media and on news media websites. Th us, the number of voices is increasing and more citizens are participating in public debate. On the other hand, there is still a considerable domination by elite sources in the most important news outlets. This pattern has not changed, despite the contradictory trend on digital media platforms.

From the USA report:

Most people now have access to more information than at any previous time, but the decimation of traditional print and broadcast newsrooms and a lack of viable methods for financing in-depth reporting in the digital age means the nation is at a delicate moment in communications, news, journalism, and free speech. It also unfortunately remains the case that race, gender, income, education, geography, age, disability, and sexual orientation all continue to unjustly shape Americans’ opportunities for both accessing and being represented in high-quality reporting. …

Simultaneously, the digital revolution has upset old business models. As a consequence, there exists a looming—though not certain—market failure in the production and circulation of publicly relevant news, especially at the local level. Traditional media are scrambling to maintain balance in the new environment, but have been slow to adapt.

From the India report:

The multiplicity of television channels within a language market has not led to significant diversity; visible variations in content are more a reflection of diff erences in the dominant interests driving or owning these channels—namely, politicians and political parties, business ventures associated or affiliated with political groups, and different sections within the business community. In short, the visible diversity, especially across television news channels, indicates a variety of dominant voices.