PPC Introduces New Media, Policy, and Public Opinion Program


The Public Policy Center unveiled a new research program in Media, Policy and Public Opinion (MPPO) in the fall of 2019. It aims to tackle questions about our changing media landscape, peoples’ mistrust in media, media laws, and how media affects our voting behavior. The mission is ongoing, as the MPPO scholars and their teams are sharing expertise with policy makers and communities through a series of talks and workshops.

Dr. Kajsa Dalrymple is serving as the first MPPO program director. Dalrymple is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and senior research fellow in-residence with the PPC's Environmental Policy Research Program. She worked with associate professor Dr. Melissa Tully to develop the program’s proposal. Tully's "Misinformation in Emerging Democracies Project" and Dalrymple's "Iowa Values Project" launched the program.

In a recent interview, Dalrymple said that we are currently in an “unique feedback loop,” meaning people have the power to participate in media discussions and interact with news organizations in real time. While this means more representation and greater access than ever before, this could also lead the way to lies, conspiracy theories, and distrust between community members. 

“We’re interested in how people sift through both bad and good parts of the media, and what they take away from it,” Dalrymple said. How the media inform legislative bodies and the general public are important to consider as well, she said, as it can influence voting decisions.

Legal concerns such as surveillance and privacy are also of interest to the MPPO, especially social media giants like Facebook and newcomer TikTok. Since these platforms use hidden algorithms, the flow of information is impacted one way or another, said Dalrymple, and it can be tough to identify correct information.

Dalrymple is excited to be working on this program with her colleagues and to spread awareness on these issues.