May 19, 2022

Policy Paper: “A ‘Full Stack’ Approach to Public Media in the United States

From The German Marshall Fund of the United States:

This paper outlines what a “full stack” approach to new public media might look like. The “full stack” involves all the layers in communicating information, from production through distribution. In considering what a reinvigorated infrastructure for civic information might look like, the paper asks anew what have always been questions for media policy: How can community anchor institutions like libraries and universities participate? How can we ensure robust and resilient physical infrastructure everywhere? What technical and regulatory protocols will free citizens from exploitative commercial control? How can we support accurate, high-quality content that the market does not produce?

The United States needs to invest in a new digital public sphere—a new civic infrastructure—if it hopes to sustain democratic practice and informed participation.

Source: A “Full Stack” Approach to Public Media in the United States; German Marshall Fund (2021)


Fortunately, U.S. communities already possess key assets to help support local democracy. Anchor institutions such as libraries, universities, community centers, public broadcasters, and public access stations provide a vital basis for nurturing civic participation. But they need retooling and new company to play a more significant role in the democratic process. Legal scholar Jonathan Zittrain has suggested that another kind of community institution—the jury—could rebuild trust in online platform content moderation.55 Library scholar Barbara Alvarez sees an enhanced role for libraries in battling disinformation campaigns as “Because of their unique positions as partners, educators, and community champions, librarians have an opportunity to teach information and media literacy.”

Direct to Full Text Paper
23 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.