Blog

Welcome to the Free Press blog! We post several times a week on everything from Internet access to free speech to media mergers, so check back often to see what we’re up to.

  • Citizen Journalist Arrests on the Rise at Occupy Protests

    January 10, 2012

    Late last Friday journalists and protesters gathered outside the home of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to speak out in defense of the First Amendment. The event drew more police than participants, which only reinforced the message the group hoped to send regarding the NYPD’s heavy-handed approach to journalists covering Occupy Wall Street. 

  • Journalists Need to Advocate for Better Media Policy

    January 9, 2012

    The Stop Online Piracy Act has sparked an important debate among journalists and within journalism organizations about their role as advocates for and against policies that impact the future of news. Of course, journalists have long been important advocates for policies like the shield law and the Freedom of Information Act and have been staunch defenders against incursions on freedom of the press. However, in terms of some of the most important media policy discussions, many journalism organizations have been silent.

  • The News Networks' SOPA Blackout

    January 9, 2012

    You may have heard about the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Simply put, it's a bill in the House that could open the door to widespread Internet censorship.

    Opposition to the bill has reached a boiling point. Millions of activists, hundreds of startups, social media sites like Tumblr, Reddit and Twitter and even big companies like Google, Yahoo! and eBay have joined with Free Press and other Internet advocacy groups against it.

  • Verizon's Deal with Big Cable Spells the Demise of the Telecom Act

    January 5, 2012

    We all remember the 1980's and its awesome fashion and music. While some may want to revisit those aspects of the past, I don't think anyone wants to return to the era of the cable and Ma Bell monopolies.

    Opening up communications markets was the purpose of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The Act was designed to help phone companies get into the pay-TV business, and cable companies get into the phone business. Yet after a series of regulatory blunders, this promise of increased competition and lower prices has become a distant memory, like 7-Up Gold. And the situation is only getting worse.

  • Iowa Kicks Off the Media's Mud Season

    January 4, 2012

    If you flip on a local television station and watch for an hour or so, you're likely to see at least one: a political ad that attacks a candidate for public office.

    If you live in any of the "battleground states," you'll see up to 12 political ads an hour.

    Viewers in Iowa fell under a barrage of these ads leading up to Tuesday's caucuses. This on-air onslaught offers the rest of us a preview of what television viewing will be like as Election Day 2012 draws closer.

  • Chronicle of Journalist Arrests Wins Storify Award

    January 4, 2012

    My colleague, Josh Stearns, has been tracking journalist arrests at Occupy protests since the movement launched in September. His documentation of press arrests on social media platform Storify has earned him the site’s nod as “Storify of the Year.”

    Since September, 36 journalists have been arrested in 10 cities. Many more have been harassed, roughed up or otherwise hindered while attempting to do their work. The arrests and suppression have occurred even as journalists have identified themselves to police as members of the press.

  • No Cuts to Public Media in the Next Budget

    December 29, 2011

    If you’re like me, you’re used to hearing “This program was made possible by supporters like you” at the end of NPR and PBS shows. But this year those words take on a special significance.

    Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support from people all across the country, public media survived the most serious political attacks in Congress it has faced in years. Repeated efforts to pass bad bills, sneak through dangerous cuts and undermine the fundamental structure of public media failed thanks to the hard work of activists and fans who wrote to Congress, called their policymakers and even showed up in Washington, D.C., to make their voices heard.

  • FCC Ignores Public by Pushing Failed Ownership Policies

    December 22, 2011

    On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that would further weaken media ownership limits for local newspapers and broadcast stations. The agency's proposal is strikingly similar to one adopted in 2007 under former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Those rules were met with overwhelming public opposition from across the country, as well as from bipartisan leaders in Congress, and were thrown out by a federal appeals court last summer.

  • Journalists: Don't Be Objective About Media Transparency

    December 21, 2011

    We try to shine a spotlight on the media policies that shape journalism in America — for better and for worse. The Freedom of Information Act is a key example of how media policy can have a profound impact on journalism. Congress passed it in 1966 and it went into effect in 1967 over the objections of then-President Lyndon Johnson. It has since become a fundamental tool in journalists’ toolbox for accessing government information and holding our leaders accountable.

    The Federal Communications Commission is now seeking feedback on a new rule that could open up even more information to help journalists follow the money in elections and media. However, some broadcasters are lobbying hard to derail this effort at enhanced disclosure.

  • The Truth About Fake News

    December 21, 2011

    A media watchdog sent us this video of Wisconsin station WLUK passing off an AT&T advertisement as news.

    It sounds crazy, but passing an infomercial off as a news story is legal as long as stations disclose the paid pieces at the end of the program.

    But a lot of stations don’t even manage that: They air fake news without providing any kind of disclosure to viewers — a clear violation of FCC rules. And these rules are so weak that stations that do provide disclosure information can get away with text that is barely legible.

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