In a context of increasing distrust in institutions, including government, media and news, there is need to understand how civic innovators are using media and technology to counter these trends. Based on over 40 interviews with practitioners, this report identifies “civic media practice” as media and technology used to facilitate democratic process. It focuses specifically on those practitioners using media tools to form relationships and build trust - a practice that sometimes runs counter to the apparent needs of organizations to enhance efficiency through technology. This report identifies civic media practice as a direct response to the crisis of distrust and describes the negotiation of values that takes place as media is designed and deployed in organizations.

The process of identification and evaluation of civic media practice is described in detail. The report presents a method of process evaluation that allows practitioners to measure their progress along two central axes: social infrastructure and objective. Civic media practice is always striving towards strong social infrastructure and longevity. As a means of measuring progress along these axes, we identify four activities that can be tracked. They include:

  • Network Building
  • Holding Space for Discussion
  • Distributing Ownership
  • Persistent Input

We present reflective questions that can be asked throughout a civic media project to track progress in these areas. Finally, we provide recommendations for practitioners and funders as they create and support civic media practice. The institution of civic media is nascent. This report is meant to solidify common principles and provide direction for those invested in transforming civic life through media practice.

Additional Information

Author(s): Eric Gordon, Gabriel Mugar

Published: February 1st 2018