Jessica Clark

Jessica Clark is the co-author of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media with Tracy Van Slyke. She directs the Future of Public Media project at American University's Center for Social Media.

Recent Articles

Where Will We Get the Next Rachel Maddow?

The folding of Air America seems a grim omen for progressive media. It's not all dire -- three strategies for keeping progressive media makers flourishing.

(Air America)
The progressive media sector has suffered a few sharp blows in recent weeks. On Jan. 21, Air America Media unceremoniously folded, citing a "perfect storm" in the media industry. Just a few days later, a survey from Public Policy Polling revealed Fox News to be the most trusted television news source -- echoing Fox's continued ratings domination over CNN and MSNBC. Even old "crash the gates" Markos challenged progressive media's power to influence Democrats or inspire newly disillusioned voters in a recent blog post . "Our media machine is tiny," he wrote. "We don't have the power to move our base around." None of this negates the tremendous impact that progressive media makers and outlets -- from straight journalism organizations, to blogs, to citizen activists swarming social networks -- have made. Growing in force, visibility, and organization over the past decade, networked progressive media efforts have steadily been winning victories against the right's behemoth noise machine...

Girl Talk

A new book posits zines as the founding documents of third-wave feminist political culture.

Scrawled and stapled, filled with rough-edged collages and BLARING CAPS, often achingly, embarrassingly personal, zines hardly seem like the founding documents of a movement. But, in the first book-length treatment of this topic, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism , Alison Piepmeier argues that zines played a signature role in the development of third-wave feminism. "These hopeful interventions are not identical to traditional modes of doing politics," she writes, "but they are political nonetheless, because they are drawing attention to what's wrong with the world, awakening their readers' outrage, and providing tools for challenging existing power structures." Piepmeier begins reclaiming zines from the male-dominated culture of punk. Instead, she connects them with what she identifies as earlier forms of feminist "participatory media": the scrapbooks kept by suffragettes to document and respond to sexist characterizations of their work; the pamphlets that transmitted...

Defining Public Media for the Future

Four experts discuss what "public media" means -- and what it will look like in the future.

How can we imagine a public-media network, which not only offers citizens news, information and culture but directly connects them to one another and stimulates debate? We asked four experts in journalism and media policy to help us brainstorm how this might work. An abridged version of their discussion appears below. Related: Jessica Clark and Patricia Aufderheide offer their vision for building a new national network. Over at TAPPED , Josh Silver suggests three reforms that would reinvigorate public media; Yochai Benkler discusses content creation and curation; and Ellen Goodman discusses the move from broadcast to broadband. What does the phrase "public media 2.0 network" mean to you? Kinsey Wilson, senior vice president of digital media at National Public Radio: As we look ahead, there may be some confusion between public media, public-interest media, and journalism. I suppose in the strictest terms, "public media" would be the digital incarnation of legacy institutions such as...

Will Public Media Survive Where Mainstream Media Failed?

We must construct a public media network capable of informing and engaging our citizenry.

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Print is dying, broadcast is evolving, and social networks are all the rage. What new vision will guide the way we fund and create public media? Related: Media experts talk about the challenges to constructing a viable network. Over at TAPPED , Josh Silver suggests three reforms that would reinvigorate public media; Yochai Benkler discusses content creation and curation; and Ellen Goodman considers the move from broadcast to broadband. Public broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, and network newscasts have played a central role in our democracy, informing citizens and guiding public conversation. But the top-down dissemination technologies that supported them are being supplanted by an open, many-to-many networked media environment. What platforms, standards, and practices will replace or transform legacy public media? Answers are already emerging out of a series of media experiments taking place across legacy and citizen media, which we examine in depth in Public Media 2.0: Dynamic...

Voter Protection, Twitter Style

A new coalition is using Twitter to map problems faced by voters across the country and connect voters in need with election-protection groups.

Organizers and volunteers at the Twitter Vote Report project have spent the last few weeks furiously hacking together a real-time reporting system for tracking problems at the polls. By the time the Web site, launched last Wednesday, text messages from early voters were already filtering in. Here's one from Michigan: "My #early #votereport - absentee ballots in #48823 require extra postage. Don't let a $0.15 slipup keep your voice from being heard!" While this may look like gobbledygook, the basic concept is simple. To submit a report all that users need is a cell phone -- text 66937 -- or a Twitter account. To be included, the message must contain a tag that marks the submission : #votereport. Other optional tags signify zip code (#48823) and context (#early). For emergencies, there's a tag voters can use to call for help from the Election Protection coalition. "The hard truth is that so many of the problems that crop up on Election Day slip through the cracks...