A number of years ago, I was co-producer of a miniseries for the A&E Network called Biography of the Millennium. With the help of viewers, historians and other experts we chose those who were deemed to be the most important and influential people of the thousand years that began in the year 1001 A.D. and ended in the year 2000.
Minot, N.D., became a symbol of the dangers of media
consolidation in 2002, when a nearby train derailment released toxic anhydrous
ammonia into the air. Minot’s six Clear Channel-owned stations continued to air
automated programming while a deadly gas cloud spread across town, killing one person
and injuring a thousand.
Failed once by absentee-owned corporate media, Minot is today facing another
emergency--severe flooding. But this time,
the community is better informed, thanks largely to news coverage by a small,
locally owned TV station, KXMC.
Almost a year to the day after Verizon announced it would cease offering unlimited mobile data plans, we're being handed a stinker of an anniversary gift in the form of leaked details about Verizon's upcoming data caps.
Grab your remotes, and get ready to change the channels; there’s
a new struggle against increased media consolidation, and chances are it’s
coming to your town. In fact, it’s quite possible that TV stations in your own
backyard have already consolidated, and you may not even know it’s happened.
That’s because media companies have circumvented the Federal Communications
Commission’s ownership rules in over 80 markets, quietly shuttering newsrooms
at the expense of independent, local journalism.
WiscNet is an Internet services co-op that provides Internet access to the vast majority of schools and libraries in Wisconsin, as well as a number of local governments. Because it’s a co-op, it can deliver lower-cost broadband to public entities than they could negotiate on their own.
Last year, in his remarks at the Federal Communications Commission workshop on the future of noncommercial media, Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made a provocative statement:
There is no longer enough private capital — in the form of advertising, subscriptions, philanthropy and other sources — to support the depth and breadth of quality local, national and international news reporting our communities need to participate in a 21st-century democracy.
At the time, the statement was a best guess based on the statistics and trends that were available. The FCC has now released their report on the Information Needs of Communities and in it they spend significant time probing the economics of what we have lost from our media and journalism and how we could begin to fill that gap. The evidence and economic analysis in the FCC report seems to confirm that we are facing a serious gap in financial support for exactly the kind of news we need.