• Save the Date for NCMR 2013!

    January 31, 2012

    Internet censorship. Massive media mergers. Attacks on public and independent media. Not to mention all that slanted, horse race-style election coverage that does nothing to inform or inspire.

  • A Push for Privacy in the Wake of the Carrier IQ Controversy

    January 31, 2012

    Remember Carrier IQ, the company that makes the secret spying software that’s installed on more than 140 million phones? You know, the software that can record our most sensitive personal data?

    Cellphone companies including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile use Carrier IQ to track what smartphone users are doing on their phones, but it’s unclear what data is being tracked and what is being done with that information. While both these companies and Carrier IQ claim they want our most sensitive information only to diagnose hardware and software problems, the public — and some members of Congress — still have questions about what, exactly, this powerful software can do.

  • Oakland Becomes the Epicenter for Journalist Arrests

    January 30, 2012

    While most of the attention surrounding journalist arrests at Occupy protests has focused on New York City, where more than 20 journalists have been detained, it looks like Oakland will be giving the Big Apple a run for its money. On Jan. 28, Oakland police detained six journalists during mass arrests of Occupy protesters. This comes just weeks after Oakland police apprehended another journalist who, in a video of the arrest, appeared to be obeying orders to disperse.

  • Adding It Up: Press Freedom, Democratic Health and Public Media Funding

    January 26, 2012

    This week Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012 Press Freedom Index, and much of the attention has focused on the fact that the United States dropped 27 places to 47th in the world, thanks in large part to the journalist arrests at Occupy Wall Street events. For a nation that has built its model of governance on freedom of the press, that ranking should be a wake-up call, and should spark a national debate about how we are going to defend the First Amendment in the digital age.

    On its own, the study from Reporters Without Borders is a powerful snapshot of press freedom around the world. However, it’s worth cross-referencing the report’s findings with a few other data points to better understand how the United States stacks up, and why this ranking is so important. When the lists below are viewed side by side, it becomes clear that press freedom correlates directly with other measures of democratic health.

  • Democracy Under Threat

    January 26, 2012

    The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has already picked a winner in the 2012 elections: TV broadcasters.

    Companies like CBS Corp., News Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group are already dividing the spoils of an election year that will see unprecedented spending on political ads.

  • After Journalist Arrests, U.S. Plummets in Global Press Freedom Rankings

    January 25, 2012

    In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for a “renewal of American values.” However, over the course of his wide-ranging speech, he made no mention of one core value: the fundamental role of the free press in America.

    This absence was highlighted this morning when Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012 global Press Freedom Index. After months of journalist arrests and press suppression at Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests, the United States has plummeted in the rankings.

  • Can't Buy Me Laws: Congress Must Give Back Chris Dodd's Dirty Money

    January 24, 2012

    People inside the D.C. bubble often tell stories about lavish fundraisers and the use of campaign cash to shore up votes in Congress. Conspiracy theories about who uses their PAC money, or direct contributions, to bend the ear of powerful committee chairmen and party leaders circulate throughout the capital faster than the Metro.

    Still, the stories are usually hard to substantiate, and publicly members of Congress and their staffs are quick to deny that money has any influence at all. Rarely is the systemic corporate capture of Washington, D.C., on display in such a transparent and ugly way as it was last week.

  • The Public's Right to Know

    January 24, 2012

    In the media reform world, we often say we’re fighting for “better” media. Of course, “better” is the sort of word that begs comparison: better than what? If we’re to demand more of our local broadcasters, we need to know what’s wrong with the status quo.

    Broadcasters use the public airwaves free of charge, and in return are supposed to provide programming that fulfills the news and information needs of communities. The Federal Communications Commission requires broadcasters to keep public files detailing exactly how they serve local needs. But these records are generally kept in file cabinets at local TV stations and are not easily accessible. So the pressure is on for broadcasters to put these files online in a publicly searchable database.

  • Media Literacy Students Create Anti-SOPA Video

    January 24, 2012

    Under the leadership of our friends at New Mexico’s Media Literacy Project, ninth graders Jack Folkner, Martin Jencka and Jay Jewell-Roth created a video about the recently shelved Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

  • Web Blacks Out, Senators Defect

    January 19, 2012

    Yesterday was unbelievable. In an unprecedented show of strength, millions of Internet users rose up against the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP Act, with Wikipedia, reddit, Boing Boing, and thousands of other sites going black to join in the protest (even Google hid its logo behind a black bar for the day). Millions sent letters to Congress, and tens of thousands picked up the phone to urge their senators to vote “no” on PIPA, which is scheduled for a Jan. 24 vote.


People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good