Key note: Mapping the digital media landscape

By Gerhard Schneibel and Eira Martens

Mark Thompson, of the Open Society Foundations Media Program, opened the FoME 2011 Symposium with a keynote speech on digital media which his organization is mapping in the 60 countries.

“You all know how rapidly the Internet is taking off,” Marc Thompson told a crowd of journalists and development professionals in his opening address on Day 1 of the FoME 2011 Symposium. “It is taking off above all in countries where mainstream media is not greatly respected for whatever reason. The take-up there is huge.”

Blogging, online news and wikis: country preferences vary

The Open Society’smapping project shows that blogging is highly popular in Morocco and Thailand, while less so in Albania, Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meanwhile online news interpretation has prevalence in Italy, while Germany features high levels of collaborative wikis. But online journalism has its vulnerabilities, according to Thompson. Threats include use of “copy and paste journalism,” a lack of verified information and vulnerability to the influence of public relations or rumors.

“Interactivity is a good thing”

However, the internet allows for better journalistic sourcing and better access to information through online archives, he added. “There is a general sense that interactivity with users is a good thing.” The Open Society Foundations Media Program’s project of mapping digital media is a work in progress. “We hope very much that it will be of great use to all of you both in informing yourself as to what is the situation in particular countries and regions,” Thompson said.