CEU Students Join Media Influence Matrix Project

February 15, 2018

A team of CEU MA students has joined the Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS) in carrying out its newly launched Media Influence Matrix Project. The students are doing research work in line with the common methodology and research template used in the project. The majority of the students are currently pursuing MA degrees at the CEU School of Public Policy (SPP).

“We hope that this is the first stage in creating a student research lab in our center,” said Marius Dragomir, the director of CMDS. “I am running this through my class at SPP, but I hope to extend work with students beyond that.” Dragomir says that it is an opportunity for students to practice what they learn. “They have a real-life media research experience: they talk to people in government, businesses and technology firms and see their work published,” Dragomir said.

CMDS welcomes other CEU students interested in media research to join this effort. The work in this project consists of gathering data and information from a slew of resources (chiefly public records, but also company documents) as well as interviews with policymakers, media owners, technologists and journalists.

Over the course of the next two years (2018-2019), Media Influence Matrix will publish a series of articles, analytical papers and datasets. They will feed into the project’s final output, which will be a collection of country reports and comparative overviews.

CMDS is running this project in a research consortium, Media and Power Research Consortium, consisting of more than 40 organizations, including academic institutions, advocacy groups, journalist networks and NGOs. The main goal of the research project is to investigate the profound influence that rapid shifts in policy, sources of funding and technology companies in the public sphere are having on journalism today.

The Media Influence Matrix Project is covering three main areas as following: government and policy space, with a focus on the changes in the policy and regulatory environment; funding, with a focus on the key funding sources of journalism and the impact on editorial coverage; and technology in the public sphere, with a focus on how technology companies, through activities such as automation and algorithm-based content distribution, impact news media and journalism.

Focused on news media, including newly emerged players, the project is building on the CMDS 2017-2019 strategy. One of its main goals is to grasp the key shifts in the relationships between media, politics and technology. Research is one way to achieve that.

Nick Benequista of the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), a partner in the research consortium, says that this project “addresses some glaring gaps in our knowledge.” He wrote: “[…] Our debates today are too often dominated by statistics from the Global North, with scant attention to how global trends are playing out in nuanced, contextual ways.” Media Influence Matrix is addressing that problem, mostly covering under-researched countries. The project aims at collecting data in a comparative and publically available format. Countries that CMDS is covering with the team of CEU students include South Africa, Mexico, Russia, Kenya and Jordan.