Welcome to Sunshine
Week — a time to stand up for the importance of open government and freedom of information. And what better time
than the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, when winter shadows are receding
and the sun begins to usher in new life.
But as we all know, the metaphor is aspirational. In
reality, darkness still obscures information that the public needs to participate
fully in our democracy. That’s why, in honor of Sunshine Week, Free Press
volunteers all over the country will be shining their own lights on their local
media outlets. Starting today and continuing all week long, our volunteers will
be paying visits to their local TV stations to inspect their public files.
We see this when our children promise to share — and then hoard
their Halloween candy, refusing their angelic parents even the smallest
Snickers. And this dynamic really hits home when leaders deliver principled
speeches — and then neglect to follow through on their promises.
In 2008, President Obama spoke out
against media consolidation and for more diverse ownership of radio and
television stations. "Rules promoting the public interest and diversity in
media ownership," he said, "are too important for the FCC to accept
an agenda supported by the Washington special interests."
Even though nonprofit news organizations have been a vital part of our media for decades, in the last five years we’ve seen a rapid expansion in the noncommercial journalism sector. Coming at a moment of profound transition in the news business, these nonprofit startups are learning the ropes even as they are changing the rules. As such, they are constantly negotiating a complex set of tensions that push and pull them toward the future. They are trying to be nimble but sustainable, trying to push the envelope but not leave their communities behind, trying to burn brightly without burning out.
A legal net is closing around media mogul Rupert
Murdoch. On Monday a top investigator in London reported that senior News Corp.
employees authorized hundreds of bribes to police officers and other
government officials. And just this morning his disgraced son James
stepped down from his role as executive chairman of News International.
sugarcoat it: The wireless industry is a big racket.
reason why: AT&T and Verizon are slowing down — or throttling — Internet
access on smartphones, supposedly to manage congestion on their networks. Yet a
new study supports what many of us have been saying all along: These companies
aren’t throttling to save bandwidth.
They say nothing is certain except
death and taxes. Last weekend, those two things went hand in hand when the Chicago News Cooperative — a major
nonprofit journalism organization — was forced to suspend operations, thanks in
part to the IRS.