A newly published set of indexes tracks media ownership in the U.S.

Heidi Legg

Want to find out who owns what in the media? Heidi Legg, a research fellow with the Future of Media Project at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, has published three massive databases tracking the mainstream media, emerging nonprofit media and the seven major owners of daily papers.

This is really impressive stuff. My only reservation is that a lot of this information tends to have the shelf life of eggs left out on the counter. I hope Legg and her colleagues are committed to maintaining the lists. In an op-ed for USA Today, Legg writes:

If readers knew who owned these newsrooms, then perhaps they would feel less duped. We need a standard again of what constitutes journalism. I began to wonder whether transparency in ownership could ironically rebuild trust in news? The goal is not to make some bold claim of who is legit and who is not, but rather, press for radical transparency to better understand where news outlets get their money.

Legg’s work is a valuable resource that I expect to turn to over and over again.