Research: How Good Media Policy Can Help Local News, and Democracy

By Matt LoJacono // February 22, 2024

Gentleman in grey shirt portrait
Phil Napoli

A new research volume titled "Media Policy for an Informed Citizenry: Revisiting the Information Needs of Communities for Democracy in Crisis" was co-edited by Phil Napoli, James R. Shepley Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. The volume explores the market failure of local news and provides an extensive analysis of how policy interventions can address the crisis in traditional local journalism.

The assessment is organized into four parts: policy, supply, demand, and adaptation. The contributors examine the changes and effects of information supply within local environments, the shifts in information-seeking patterns, and the demand for news. The final section deals with adaptation, exploring how policy and the media industry can and should change in response to recent trends and historical legacies of supply and demand for reliable, timely, local information.

The volume, which includes contributions by 2023 Egan Visiting Professor Margaret Sullivan, offers meaningful solutions to the challenge of meeting communities' information needs and identifies problems that have only deepened since the publication of the FCC Information Needs Report. The volume is a starting point for answering questions about the ways that public policy, and more specifically media policy, ought to respond to the crisis in local news.

Napoli further serves as a Docent at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on media institutions and media regulation and policy.  He has provided formal and informal expert testimony on these topics to government bodies such as the U.S. Senate, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Congressional Research Service. 

As a foremost expert in media regulation and disinformation, Napoli has recently produced two books on the subject: Social Media and the Public Interest (Author, 2019) and News Quality in the Digital Age (Editor, 2023). 

Recently, he also appeared as the featured guest on Sullivan's American Crisis podcast, further discussing the history of news media and the current state of media regulation.