Emergency Grant Winner Announced
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) announces the first recipient of a $30,000 Emergency Grant for academic-advocacy collaboration in the media and communications field.
Emergency Grants are intended to take advantage of unexpected opportunities for strategic, short-term research—often in relation to small windows of opportunity for input into policy processes.
The Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public Sphere program at the SSRC awarded its first emergency grant for $30,000 to:
"Local TV News Content and Media Ownership"
The project proposes to conduct a critical analysis of a study funded by the FCC as part of its media ownership proceedings. Specifically, it will examine a highly controversial approach to measuring bias in local news in relation to media concentration. The study examines a central set of claims advanced in the FCC-sponsored work: The Effects of Cross-Ownership on the Local Content and Political Slant of Local Television News. The hypothesis is that these findings are the product of a change in FCC data coding methods, and that an analysis using earlier FCC coding practices will produce different results. This work has been made possible by aggressive CFA lobbying of the FCC for access to the raw programming content underlying the FCC study—a unique opportunity that leverages a major data purchase by the FCC. In this context, the project contributes to the broader access-to-data goals of the SSRC Necessary Knowledge program by advancing the principle that FCC policy must be made with publicly-available data. The timeliness and urgency of this study is a function not only of the narrow window of opportunity to address the ownership proceeding, but also of the need to capitalize on FCC acknowledgement of the principle that access to data is an important condition of public accountability. Having won this ‘right’ in this case, this study becomes an important signal to the FCC about the capacity of the public interest community to make access matter.