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Ferrier requests data from alternative news media for Media Deserts Project

Jul 22, 2014

The map of Ohio shows the penetration of daily newspaper circulation by zip code. Red indicates decline and green indicates growth. 

Ferrier requests data from alternative news media for Media Deserts Project

ATHENS, Ohio (July 22, 2014)—To strengthen the “climate map” of the changing media ecosystem, Dr. Michelle Ferrier of Scripps College of Communication implored publishers of alternative news media to contribute their circulation data to the Media Deserts Project (www.mediadeserts.com) at their annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, July 12.

Ferrier, associate dean for innovation and associate professor at the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, met with representatives from community weeklies to niche, local publications to share the Media Deserts Project, a map that uses GIS technologies to create a community audit of media resources. The project, a research collaboration between Ferrier and Dr. Ali Erkan and his team at Ithaca College in New York, allows users to examine the geographic footprint of existing community media at the zip code level.

“The project is designed to bring awareness to the changes wrought by technology and new entrepreneurship ventures in the marketplace,” said Ferrier. “The map will help us identify communities that lack access to fresh news and information.”

To that end, the media deserts project team is building out the national map that currently includes daily newspaper circulation. They are adding hyperlocal online news sites and also hope to bring in community and alternative weekly news publications as well.

“Alternative Newsmedia has long told the stories of the underrepresented and ignored. As such, we are in a perfect position to bring to light stories from media deserts all over the country,” said Tiffany Shackelford, executive director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. “There are vast populations that have been underserved by modern media, and I am thrilled about the possibility of changing this.”

Ferrier is encouraged by connections made at the convention and asserts the inclusion of alternative news will make the project more complete. 

“Our picture would not be complete if we didn’t include the vital role that weeklies play in informing local communities,” Ferrier said. “Ultimately, we would like to work with communities that lack media resources and help them build local media innovations that work for their residents.

For more information on the project, visit www.mediadeserts.com.