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Digital media

A new research center will better position UNC students to be discerning information consumers.

New UNC research center to address 21st-century digital media questions

For the first time, social media surpassed newspapers as a news source for Americans last year. Nine in 10 Americans say they get at least some of their news digitally, and U.S. consumers are expected to spend more time looking at their mobile devices than at their televisions by the end of the year.

What does that mean for the way we make sense of the world? A new center at UNC-Chapel Hill will explore that issue.

With $5 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Carolina will establish the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. Drawing on some of the world’s leading experts in information science, media and journalism, communication and law, CITAP will answer defining questions about the changing nature of society and politics in the digital age.

An additional $750,000 contribution from Luminate and $600,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will expand the center’s impact and better position UNC students to be discerning information consumers.

“We’re in a time where anyone can create information and put it out on the internet. Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, rumors, fake news — these things are all rampant,” said Alice Marwick, assistant professor of communication and one of four faculty members leading the center.

CITAP will combine a variety of disciplines and research methods to understand digital media’s impact on people, communities and social systems.