The Media Giraffe Project (MGP) mission is to foster
participatory democracy and community. We do so by discovering and celebrating above-the-crowd individuals making
innovative, sustainable use of media. They use fresh, effective tools and approaches that empower and inform
By focusing on media role
models, our website, conference, planned book, film, curricula and workshops:
- Celebrate and support
innovation in both traditional and emerging media.
- Help citizens find and
support -- as both consumers and creators -- media that informs civic dialog and aids open, participatory
The Media Giraffe Project responds to growing public concern that
U.S. media are increasingly less able to equip citizens with knowledge they need to demand accountability
in government. This threatens effective democracy and communities.
LINK: READ MORE ABOUT THE
A COMMON GOAL
The Media Giraffe Project takes the view that individuals -- both
inside and distinctly apart from large media organizations -- have a common goal of fostering
participatory democracy and community, and that they will work together when given the opportunity. They may
also be in education, public policy or info-technology.
Journalists -- and a public increasingly able to contribute to the
news conversation -- need role models. By focusing on exemplary individual "giraffes" -- rather than institutions or
policies -- the Media Giraffe Project tells compelling stories, avoids jargon and assumes no prior knowledge of
journalism or media topics.
ONE SOLUTION -- FOCUS ON
We believe focusing on the stories
of individual people is the best way to inspire additional leadership and action.
Since April, 2005, the Media Giraffe project has been finding and
spotlighting individuals making innovative, sustainable use of media (new and old) to foster participatory democracy
and community. Because of their .above the crowd. work, we call these individuals .media giraffes..
Our intent is to provide role models, and to regularly convene these leaders.
Our beta profiles database is part of our first-phase objective to gather research on up to
300 prospective "media giraffes." Through a book, documentary film and a June 29-July 1, 2006 conference, we will communicate the
stories of 20 of the most-motivated and most effective "giraffes." Finally, with workshops, talks and multimedia
resources, we will educate. We.ll work with premier giraffes to show how citizens can use their
ideas to create or consume media that advances participatory democracy.
We examine entrepreneurs and mavericks within both independent,
local, new-media efforts as well as giraffes who are sticking their necks out in traditional, major media.
Media giraffes most typically are:
or supporting local and topical information services -- electronic and new media . profit, non-profit or cooperative,
(b) uniquely using existing or innovative media to hold government or major private interests
accountable to democratic values, or
(c) developing or using new
technologies, which change and extend the relationships among consumers and creators of civic
LINK: MORE ABOUT GIRAFFE
WHO IS OUR
The audience for the Media
Giraffe Project's work includes media professionals as well as two growing groups -- citizens who have responded to the
calls of "media-reform" activists, and citizens who are using new technology tools to practice journalism and
public-policy advocacy part time or as an avocation.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND RELATED
Together, these efforts are intended to uncover and illustrate market
forces promoting media responsiveness to the information needs of a sustainable democracy, including support for
literacy, civic participation and reflection of justice, equality, fairness, free-speech and open-government values. In
addition, they may produce ideas for structural rules changes, which might increase the competitive and marketing
advantages of independent media.
We look for innovation on both the supply and demand sides (in
technologies, systems or techniques), which will rekindle the public's interest in civic
- On the supply side, technology is creating many new, independent
"voices" and also shrinking the number of major companies who run the largest voices -- print and electronic. Some
observers are concerned that the news and entertainment industries. structure or incentives no longer serve democracy
as envisioned by our nation's Founding Fathers. They seek to reform the industry through changes in regulation, or new
- On the demand side, some studies document a perceived lack of public
interest in civic affairs. Potential causes include: (a) more adults working longer hours with less time for
civic engagement and volunteerism (b) a proliferation of media offering diversionary entertainment (c) diminished
quality of news-media offerings. Observers look for new techniques, technologies or systems to rekindle the
public.s attention to civic affairs.
WHAT ARE WE ACHIEVING?
The Media Giraffe
Project, working in collaboration with citizens, media insiders and groups, seeks to contribute to realizing three
visions within five years.
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WHO ARE WE?
The Media Giraffe Project is an interdisciplinary research
initiative housed with the journalism program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and
drawing on scholars and advisors from business, education, public policy and communication
studies. We are assisted by students, and draw upon the insights and experience of both media
insiders and citizen activists. We are research driven and non-partisan. To keep the effort
manageable, we are focused on media located in, or serving the United States.
LINK: READ MORE ABOUT WHO WE
The MGP acknowledges the work and collaboration
of The Giraffe Heroes
Project, (www.giraffe.org) a separate and unrelated organization, which has
pioneered over two decades the concept of .sticking one.s neck out. for the public good.
To learn about the Media Giraffe Project's current and future initiatives, over three years, CLICK HERE.