Choosing the technology that you use to serve the needs of your audience and clients is a big decision, impacting your sales output, editorial efficiency, and bottom line. A US-based initiative, the Public Media Stack, aims to take the guesswork out of these options for media organisations.
The Public Media Stack was created by Matt Locke, former Head of Innovation at BBC News Media, as a resource to help public media organisations make informed decisions about the technology and software that they can use to improve their workflows. While Locke has created the project for public media specifically, the resource is relevant and useful to all media organisations.
Locke says “This project started because I needed something like this, and it didn’t exist. I’ve worked in digital public media for over 20 years, and the company I [now] run creates public impact media for companies and charities across the globe. But even with that amount of experience, I still struggle to understand what technologies we should be using.”
Locke explains that there are a number of factors that make it hard to make ethical tech decisions. Often, the more affordable options mean your projects and audiences are “locked into their ecosystems”, whereas alternative options tend to need technical knowledge beyond the scope of what many media organisations employ.
“This needs to change. Over the last decade business models for public media have struggled to adapt as audiences moved to digital platforms…We need to learn from the business strategies of the major tech platforms, and start by building a sustainable and ethical technology [media] ecosystem.
“None of us has the resources to do this individually – we can only do this by working together and sharing our knowledge.”
Over one year, the Public Media Stack project has analysed over 100 software products, organised by the six stages of a typical public media workflow, and released a report.
“But we’ve barely scratched the surface,” says Locke. “There are lots of areas we haven’t had the resources to tackle – adtech and cyber security, for example – and although the products we have listed are generally available globally, the majority are based in the US or Western Europe.
“This first report is a great start, but there are a lot of things we can do to make it better.”
Public Media Stack’s 2020 report can be used as a comprehensive list of the main tools that are required to produce media, and for shortlisting and prioritising tools to explore further. The report also identifies key due diligence questions that should be asked before purchasing and implementing a tool.
Technology is split into the categories of:
- Collaboration and editing
- Production and formats
- Publishing and distribution
- Measurement and evaluation
- Audience engagement and monetisation
- Storage and archiving.
The report also includes case studies from public media project leaders around the world, focusing on their technology issues and how they are solving them.
The team aim to make the report annual, providing a regular “check up on the health of the Public Media Stack, with critical analysis about how changes in the wider technology industry are affecting public media, and practical advice that public media projects can use in their technology strategies”.
To explore the report and case studies, visit the Public Media Stack website.