Information media diversity is quintessential for the working of contemporary democracies and is currently under threat. Threats emanate from different parallel yet interrelated trends: (1) concentration tendencies in the media with content consequences; (2) possibilities offered by digital technologies to reuse and redistribute existing content through different channels; and (3) possibilities offered by IP address-based technologies to target content at specific audiences.
Consequently, the old logic that used to govern the media, that of 'representative diversity', that gives a proportional representation of social groups in society, is no longer sufficient. Given a diversified media production and differentiated audiences, a new, more elaborate and better equipped paradigm through which diversity is obtained and stimulated, is needed. This is why we introduce a novel normative rationale that we label 'responsive diversity'.
Rather than being a reflection of society, the notion of responsive diversity assumes that the media hold a mirror to society, pointing at the critical function of news media. In the context of responsive diversity, journalists are not only critical of their sources but also, if necessary, of their audiences by taking them out of their ideological comfort zones. This can be achieved through dialogue with and among news media users. As such, the connective function of responsive diversity takes shape.
Often dealt with separately in previous research, we examine three dimensions of diversity in journalistic practice: (1) diversity of issues or the extent to which different news themes are covered; (2) diversity of actors (or identities), looking at actors, belonging to different societal groups (in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and class); (3) viewpoint (or opinion) diversity, or exposure to a variety of perspectives on the issue.
The new rationale for media diversity will be elaborated in the normative WP of this project proposal. The guidelines developed in this normative WP will also feed into the development of practical tools that will support the implementation of responsive diversity by three types of actors: (1) policy makers and regulators, (2) media professionals, in particular journalists, and (3) end users of media outputs and their representatives.
The knowledge required in this normative framework and the development of the practical instruments will be generated by through a three prong research programme that adresses issues of diversity of content, diversity of supply, and diversity of use.