Dr. Michelle Ferrier is the principal investigator for and founder of The Media Deserts Project. Conceived in 2010, The Media Deserts Project examines the changing media ecosystem using geographic information system technologies along with digital ethnography and content analyses. This combined approach maps changes to the ZIP code level and provides community-based detail about media conditions.
The Media Access Research Atlas is an interactive, searchable map at the state, county and ZIP code-levels of the effects of changing circulation and subscriptions of media across the country.
On the action front, Ferrier is currently working on the Media Seeds Project of SE Ohio, examining the media deserts of rural Ohio and working with residents to build the communications infrastructure of their communities. The project is funded by a $150,000 grant from the Democracy Fund to Journalism That Matters and the Jefferson Center, who are collaborating on Your Voice Ohio, an initiative to amplify the voices of Ohioans around critical civic issues such as elections, health care and other issues.
Ferrier has also received grant funding for a hyperlocal online news project, convened sponsored regional and national conferences around media entrepreneurship and community needs, and participated with a national team of researchers responding to the FCC research requests on community information needs. She can be reached at ferrierm(at)ohio(dot)edu. Dr. Michelle Ferrier, along with project investigators Dr. Gaurav Sinha and Michael Outrich, contributed to The Communication Crisis in America and How to Fix It, “Media Deserts: Mapping the Changing Media Ecosystem,” published by Palgrave in 2016.
In past years, she has worked with Dr. Ali Erkan, associate professor, Department of Computer Science and Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca College. Both Ferrier and Erkan participated in a National Science Foundation Interdisciplinary Computing Workshop in April 2011 that examined such intercollegiate collaborations. She also worked with Dr. Ryan Kirk at Elon University and with Elon University students in the School of Communications to develop the North Carolina prototype for the project.