Where is the media going?

How do we ensure a well-informed, civically engaged New Zealand in 2030?

That’s the question the Civics and Media Project is setting out to answer as a series of national workshops considers the factors that will underpin the health of the media and of civic engagement in the coming decades.

Pressures on the business models underpinning the news industry, the fragmentation of audiences across the internet and the changing nature of civic engagement are all shaping how well-informed society is and will be in 2030.

Workshop 1 of the project, held in Wellington in September, examined the current state of the media, civic engagement and digital literacy. Workshop 2, which will be held at the University of Auckland on October 27, will consider what a civically-engaged, well-informed media might look like in 15 years time.

The final workshop, to be hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand in late November, will come up with recommendations to help ensure we get there.

Science Media Centre Director Peter Griffin, who is on the organising committee for the workshops, said the transformation underway in the media had created an abundance of content but that the public wasn’t necessarily better informed as a consequence.

“The accelerating trend toward the sensational, the immediate, the trivial, leaves many important issues under-reported. Meanwhile, people are seeking out information on the internet themselves on everything from politics to health.

“Does that add up to well-informed citizens who are well-equipped to understand the issues and participate in democratic society? I don’t know, but we have some challenges ahead that we need to be thinking about now.”

background paper on the project gives a good deal of context and summary notes from workshop 1 are available here. If you’d like to know more about the project or get involved in upcoming workshops, contact the organisers here.