National Conference for Media Reform Wraps in Boston

Contact Info: 
Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

BOSTON -- Sunday marked the end of the 2011 National Conference for Media Reform in Boston -- an energetic and inspiring gathering that brought together more than 2,500 grassroots activists, policymakers, journalists and scholars from across the country, as well as thousands more online.

Participants explored more than 80 sessions on topics ranging from how to fix the Federal Communications Commission to Wikileaks, online organizing and disaster response to the new face of media consolidation, public and community media to feminism and immigration. Discussions spilled out into the hallways of the Seaport World Trade Center, generating new energy and ideas for the growing media reform movement.

Net Neutrality was one of the hottest topics of conversation after the House of Representatives passed a bill Friday attempting to rescind the FCC's Net Neutrality rules. On Friday at the conference, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the vote. "No one should be guarding the gate on the Internet," Pelosi said.

At the keynote session Saturday, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey delivered a powerful call to continue to fight for an open Internet. "In the Net Neutrality battle, when the FCC put forward its Open Internet Order, I wasn't happy," he said. "I wanted it to go further. ... But regardless of how we viewed the FCC's order, we all can agree the Internet needs to be an open, level playing field for everyone that can’t be controlled by a central authority, whether it's a corporation or a country's totalitarian regime."

Media reformers left Boston with a renewed commitment to aggressively advocating for policies to support better journalism, sustain public media, stop runaway media consolidation, and protect the free and open Internet.

"You can't try to appease the people who are trying to kill public and community media, people who want to kill independent journalism, the people who are trying to keep you disconnected and in the dark," said Craig Aaron, the new president of Free Press, which organized the conference. "If you want to win, you can't be afraid to go into the streets sometimes. But if you want to win, you also need to be at the table when decisions are being made. And that means we're going to need lobbyists, organizers, media makers and evangelists letting people know that the media system they have right now isn't the only option."

Challenging the corporate domination of politics and policymaking in Washington was also a recurrent theme at the event. "If we don’t take on the corporate political machine and refuse to be marginalized," said outgoing Free Press President Josh Silver in a farewell address, "our nation will be overrun with more poverty, more financial meltdowns, more environmental disasters, more sick people without access to health care; and a media system with less journalism, fewer independent voices and more corporate censors with names like AT&T and Comcast."

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps urged people to continue to fight for better media, calling it the "single most important thing" needed to preserve our democracy. "Citizen action can still work, even in this age when so few people wield so much outrageous power," he said. "Many other issues crowd in for our attention, but those other issues depend so heavily on how media treats them that their reform depends upon media's reform."

To view footage of the plenaries, panels and sessions please visit: http://conference.freepress.net.

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Free Press does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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