Day 2 Lighting Talks: How the Oklahoma Media Center’s multiphase ecosystem study is using scientific polling, academic field research, newsroom training and an engagement fund with the goal of improving trust and financial support of local journalism
4:03PM Jun 20, 2023
And with that, let's get started lightning talks. If you remember from yesterday, these are seven minute ish presentations. And we are going to get started with Rob Collins who is here to talk about the Oklahoma Media Center. Come on up, sir.
And the clicker is a top button and just kind of pointed up there. All right.
All right. Hello. I'm Rob Collins, project manager with the Colombo Media Center. And after spending more than two decades as a journalist, I turned the page into the nonprofit realm to help the industry I live in another way. So that's through a nonprofit that launched with the help of the local media Association. And from the inasmuch Foundation, our initial funder in Oklahoma, LLC is a nonpartisan 501 C three that supports and strengthens local news by spurring innovation through collaboration.
The benefits diverse audiences and we're statewide. We provide support through funding for news orgs. We do best practices training, and we also provide collaborative support. Shout out to any Okies in the house here. We have a diverse statewide collaborative, and it ranges really from nonprofit investigative to black and indigenous own press. We have long standing publications working alongside startups, and broadcast media and student media and public radio. Now, we all know trust is near an all time low in media. And so we're engaging in this groundbreaking ecosystem project, really trying to move the needle on news consumption habits. This is a Gallup poll from September, and you'll see 34% of Americans trust media to report the news ferret fairly fully and accurately. And you all know every newsroom needs more resources needs more financial support. So this is a multi phase project. And you'll see that we're gonna have traditional scientific polling, we are also working with higher ed researchers collaboratively. And the democracy fund paid for our strategic planning, which recommended that we do this project as a group. So the ecosystem engagement projects goal is to find out where citizens get their local news, why they believe or trust that information, and what it would take for them to financially support local news. We received a $40,000 grant from a local foundation Kirkpatrick Foundation, and they specifically wanted to fund the scientific polling. So for phase one, we picked a reputable and state pollster. And they're working collaboratively with university research professors at ODU and Oklahoma State University. And we're giving them the data working together so they can push forward now with hyper local listening, that first phase polling conducted a survey of 500 registered voters. And we really think this is an unprecedented project, because we're designing it for local newsrooms, we have local pollsters working with local academics and researchers. And then we're gonna have trainers with local ties, and funding projects I'll tell you about by local foundation. So we really think this project is scalable in other states in the country. Now, if we can do this ecosystem project in Oklahoma, which is arguably the red estate, we really think it can be done anywhere. There's some good news in the data. You'll see that trust, the one thing that unites all Oklahoma journalists, is we're wanting to better understand the erosion of trust with audience. It's fascinating to me that nearly every socio economic group we polled, and that includes race, gender, religion, political affiliation, all agreed on two areas to make them trust news more 75% said transparency and prominently acknowledging mistakes would increase trust, and 56% said they would trust an outlet more if a friend recommended it. So at this time of really profound polarization in the country, everyone feels the same way about transparency and recommendations. It's also important to acknowledge kind of the how the strong conception of local news correlates with age. This leads to kind of a question that has to be answered. Is it better to get those already consuming Local News? To move to pay, or is it better to bring new converts into consuming news? On building trust, the closer to home the media sources, the more trusted it becomes. And the less likely to be tied to any kind of partisanship or ideology. Through the through the lens of distrust. This polling would tell national media they need to address ideological divide, to improve trust. But that's not necessarily the case with local news. When writing local media by its ideological balance, it's it shows that really it's in the middle equal percentages secrets to conservative or to liberal, which I thought was really interesting. Now, what about paying for journalism? In our poll, 30% of the voters say they have made some kind of financial commitment to funding news during the year, about a quarter pay for newspaper subscription. And those under 45 are a bit more likely to paid for least something for journalism than those 45 to 64. So now, we want to expand our understanding behind beyond this snapshot of registered voters to get to the next phase. And we realize their limitations with scientific polling. So in phase two, we're interested in understanding the why behind the data. We're currently merging the quantitative with the qualitative and academic researchers are building on phase one, with deep listening. Oh, you know, as you researchers are drilling into rural news deserts and underreported metro areas. academic researchers are consolidating organizing and cleaning data, and they're targeting for news deserts in Oklahoma. And then they're going to do broad sampling statewide and include focus groups and underreported urban areas. We're asking residents if they believe they're in a news desert, what local news they can get and how they would support local news. And then after the collaborative researchers plan, and execute those listening sessions and their focus groups and their strategic interviews, they're going to interpret their results and publish an academic analysis based on interviews by September one. So this shows you kind of the timeline. Moving into phase three, I know there are a lot it's hard to keep track. We're gonna have project execution with coaching through collaboration with another nonprofit. So after the academic analysis publishes, the nationally known trusting news will interpret the findings and then construct kind of a comprehensive plan for all of our own see news organizations. And director join mayor will be coming to Oklahoma, to kick off training the week of September 18. To help us turn insights into action. That local training will include Joy's presentation, and then we're going to break into smaller groups. And we really want to allow some breakout time for everybody to process and learn what they're hearing together. And we'll be sharing what we learned as well, with everybody. Now for the final phase. And as much as supporting a $100,000 ecosystem engagement fund. It's really an opportunity for our collaborative news source to focus on trust with readers based on the findings from our local news ecosystem study. And the news org selected to receive stipends from OMC, we will participate in best practices training, and also apply strategies based on scientific and academic research. Local media will work on these data informed projects with joy in her veteran team with Office Hours, they'll provide one on one support for this engagement fun program. And then the newsrooms will have until the end of q1 of 24 to finish their projects. So we've been asked, what kind of projects are you doing? And that's really a great question, because honestly, we don't know. That's really what makes the project unique. We're letting the scientific and academic research literally inform our work. So we won't know what kind of projects will execute until we get the data in the fall. But we're really excited to learn what this research will discover, and will obviously share all of our findings with everyone. And I do want to stress one thing, we really think that this can be applied in other statewide ecosystems like it's scalable. So we already have a baseline 100,000 For this ecosystem engagement fund. And please note that we are trying to get more beyond the 100,000 to give out to the new source to distribute. So thank you so much for letting me talk about our project.