Press Releases

Friday, June 22, 2007

SSRC Receives $1.5 Million Ford Grant to Continue Innovative Work on Media Reform

he Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has received a $1.5 million grant from the Ford Foundation to expand its work to unite academics, advocates and policymakers around the goal of reforming policy on media and communications in the United States. The investment represents one of the largest single grants by a major foundation in this emerging new field.

The grant will support the SSRC program "Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public Sphere." Launched at the end of 2005, the program seeks to foster a culture of collaboration between academic and advocacy communities, both in the United States and abroad, on issues of media policy, media reform and media justice. During its first phase (2006-2007), which Ford supported with an award of $750,000 (Ford had previously granted $100,000 to the SSRC for a feasibility study), the program made grants to media researchers both in the United States and internationally on topics ranging from the effects of commercial media on children to the need for bridging Africa's digital divide.

"The Ford Foundation has long believed in the need for free and responsible media that address important civic and social issues and respond to the public's diverse constituencies and interests," said Becky Lentz of the Ford Foundation. "We are excited by the progress the SSRC's Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Sphere program has made in the past year in encouraging scholars with knowledge of communications law and policy and advocates for policy change to talk to one another and to work together on projects that focus on communities and issues that are traditionally marginalized in policy discussions."

"Thanks to Ford's generous grant, the SSRC can continue working to ensure that vital debates about media and communications are informed by high-quality research and a rich understanding of the public interest," said SSRC President Craig Calhoun. "Already, the program has experienced considerable success in facilitating creative collaborations among scholars, advocates, practitioners and policymakers involved in media reform."

During Phase II, which extends for two years (February 2007 -- February 2009), the program will continue running its two-tier grants competition for research-advocacy collaboration. To facilitate such partnerships, it recently launched an online "Media Research Hub." In addition, the program will address the problems experienced by communications and media researchers in accessing the expensive commercial data that plays a major role in proceedings by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Recently, the program launched a Data Consortium for making important data sets available to anyone wishing to conduct research on media and communications policy.

About the SSRC's Program on Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public Sphere:

Advances in digital technologies, the concentration of media ownership, the privatization of communications infrastructures, and the expansion of intellectual property regimes are the underlying features of the transformation taking place in the delivery of media contents around the globe. The SSRC is committed to exploring the implications of these changes for public life in a democratic culture.
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About the Social Science Research Council (SSRC)

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) engages practitioners, policymakers, and academic researchers in all the social sciences and related professions, as well as in the humanities and natural sciences, on important public issues, with the goal of bringing necessary knowledge to public action.
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About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than half a century it has been a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide, guided by its goals of strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Russia.
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