Poynter Points to FCC to Stop Media Crisis

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Remarks at today's FCC workshop should be of interest to fellow BNR students.

In remarks made in her testimony at today's FCC workshop, Karen Dunlap, President of Poynter Institute said that cross-ownership of media wasn't the immediate crisis. Whearas she urged the FCC to keep watch to insure that relaxing cross-ownership rules wouldn't affect independent, local and community provided news, she urged them to consider a wider issue.

She is concerned about the media transformation, anyone can have a megaphone now. She quotes Michael Smith, executive director of Northwestern University's Media Management Center. Who said to a group at the Newspaper Association of America meeting that "an eight-year old –- let's say an affluent eight-year-old -- has more publishing power in her bedroom today than publishers in 1999."

The FCC is concerned about owners of mass media and the power they hold; but mass media now shares the stage with the masses. And the FCC should also be concerned about that; because "Almost anyone can post almost anything to friends, a community or the world. Drawing an audience, of course, is another matter, as is the matter of producing news and information that is of value to society. The megaphone simply speaks to the means of commanding attention, of gaining influence."

She also discussed declining audiences of all traditional news media, people are selective in where they are getting thier news. She mentions the decline and loss of jobs in the newspaper industry, newsrooms, news magazines and the loss of ad revenue. "The decline was greater for journalists of color." according to Dunlap.

Dunlap told the FCC, "The problems that I have outlined are a threat to an informed democracy. We are seeing the deterioration of informed civic discourse as we drown in information, opinions, debates, half-truths and lies."

She encourges the FCC to consider their role in insuring an informed population.

She urged the FCC to:
1. Assist local communities to make sure daily, local, national and international news gets to them - using public funding, government, foundations and citizen contributions.
2. Promote diversity in the field of journalism.
3. Take a stand against hate speech and raise the "level of exchanges to stop the civic discourse."

This article addressed similar issues we discussed from the speeches of McChesney and Nichols and emphasizes the amount of concern there must be out there, particularly by academics. I hope the FCC can take some action that doesn't trample on First Amendment rights and yet makes sure we can sustain journalistic integrity within the newsrooms. And I hope they can save jobs and make sure that local communities continue to have news service.


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