Colleges and universities that offer communications programs are rapidly adapting new media strategies and studying the role social media, new media and their impact on the world. The Future of Public Media and American University's Center for Social Media have come together to release Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics.

The report is based on four years of research and argues that multi-platform, participatory media will be central to democratic life in the years ahead and suggests that public broadcasting could play a central role if the medium is properly restructured and supported.

The authors highlight current experiments in public media 2.0 emerging across sites and sectors -- from political debates on Wikipedia, to environmental discussions in Second Life, to community-based media shared via mobile phones, and how their impact has already changed the way in which information is shared and new opportunities they can bring.

Democratic Media

Public media 2.0 in the academic world is regarded as a tool to serve the greater good. While it's perfectly accepting for media technologies to assist large companies and private citizens, the real goal of public media is to aid and improve the social well-being of those in the public sphere. From human rights activism, to environmental stewardship, to political justice, public media 2.0 is media created by the public, for the public.

Key Component of Public Media 2.0

“The people formerly known as the audience have reorganized themselves into networks,” said Jessica Clark, director of the center’s Future of Public Media Project. She is confident that they can be empowered by endless possibilities of public media. Aspects of public media and its key concepts of are outlined in the report. As they define it, public media 2.0:

  • will be crucial to an open, democratic society
  • functions to generate publics around social issue
  • needs widely-shared standards and practices
  • can provide impact measurements
  • can act as a national network
  • needs broad public mobilization for federal support

Boasting the benefits of social and public media is bound to get organizations buzzing with anticipation. However, they will be bound to have questions about implementation and facilitation. Fortunately, there is growing network of foundations working to support media initiatives, like the Ford Foundation’s Global Perspectives in a Digital Age initiative, which supported the Center's research.

For those attending the We Media Conference in Miami on February 24, 2009, you can catch Jessica Clark, who will be presenting related research. As well, public media 2.0 is bound to serve as the basis for a series of online and offline conversations during the coming months.