Diversifying Media Ownership

A coalition of citizens’ groups, including the National Organization for Women and Consumers Union, is asking people to write to their members of Congress in a campaign to “stop big media.”  I know leaders of many of these organizations and can attest that they’re doing good work. Their draft letter is as follows:

I am writing to urge you to support S 2332, the “The Media Ownership Act of 2007.” This legislation will ensure that the Federal Communications Commission addresses the dismal state of female and minority ownership before changing any rules to unleash more media concentration.

Nearly 99 percent of the public comments received by the FCC oppose changing the nation’s media ownership rules to allow a handful of large conglomerates to swallow up more local media outlets. Congress rejected the same changes to the rules in 2003. Yet the FCC is still pushing a plan to overhaul the rules by the end of the year.

This legislation would mandate that the FCC give the public 90 days’ notice before holding a vote on new rules to ensure a full public accounting of the impact of media consolidation before changing the ownership limits. These steps are necessary to preserve diverse local media that meets the needs of our communities.

Diversity is the cornerstone of a democratic media system. Yet research by Free Press found that that while minorities make up 33 percent of the U.S. population, they own less than 8 percent of radio stations and 3 percent of TV stations.

This legislation would create an independent task force to address the crisis in minority media ownership.

Our democracy requires the free flow of local information from diverse voices. Please support the “The Media Ownership Act of 2007.”

For more information and a way to send your own version of the letter electronically, go to StopBigMedia.com.

Citizen Journalism

Dan Gillmor is doing good work with his new Center for Citizen Media. This is one of the directions that civically-minded media has gone in the past few years. New technologies seem to put the citizen in the driver’s seat. But what does this mean for the profession of journalism? What is the meaning of a profession in a digital age, when nearly anyone can find out anything and distribute this information globally? Are professions defunct? Or is there something more to a profession than a monopoly on some select sort of knowledge? I still think we need the editor’s judgment. Still I think Dan Gillmor’s work is terribly imporatant. Check it out.

Citizen Media Site Launches

If you are reading this blog then your are in the thick of the world of “citizen media.”  Check out what’s happening up the road at the University of Maryland thanks to the good work of Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab and a veteran civic journalist:

Launched Today: The Knight Citizen News Network

For immediate release
March 26, 2007
Jan Schaffer
, (301) 985-4020

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Knight Citizen News Network, a free web portal to help both citizens and journalists create and responsibly operate community news sites, launched today with an array of learning and resource modules contributed by a network of participants. KCNN.org was created to help citizens use digital media in ways that enrich community, enhance public discourse and enliven democracy, said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, which manages development of the site. It also seeks to open doors for traditional news organizations seeking to embrace user-generated content.

The rest of the news release and access to the links is available here.