To set out future-proof pathways to strengthen democracy through improving accountability, transparency and effectiveness of media production and expanding active and inclusive citizenship, the project aims to clarify the extent to which certain media under which conditions perform which democratic functions for which audiences, thus making it apparent what is at stake for democratic media - and for democracy itself.By applying an innovative multi-method design consisting of data science methods, large-scale quantitative analyses, in-depth qualitative approaches and participatory action research, the project will cover (1) perspectives of both representative and participatory notions of democracy as they exist in European societies, (2) the entire range of news media, regardless of distribution channel, mandate, ownership and source of financing, (3) the legal and (self-)regulatory framework under which media houses and journalism operate and people use media, (4) the media's potential to promote and support political participation (supply side), and (5) the media use patterns, communication needs and democratic attitudes of the audiences (demand side) in all EU Member States.
Based on the research results, an interactive multi-layer map of European political information environments will be created, whose layers reflect the legal and regulatory framework and the democratically relevant features of media supply and demand. In addition, the obtained “real” map is to be confronted with a map of how European citizens envision the future media landscapes. By comparing these maps, conclusions can be drawn from congruencies and discrepancies between them, good practice examples can be identified and guidelines can be derived to support developments that promote democracy and counteract phenomena that may jeopardize democracy. These guidelines will be addressed to policymakers, regulators, self-regulation bodies, media houses, journalists, NGOs and citizens.