Defending All Acts of Journalism

We are in an unprecedented moment for journalism. The media landscape is changing dramatically, empowering more and more people to become media makers even as the traditional infrastructures that have supported journalism for years are eroding.

Yet one thing hasn’t changed: Journalism remains a public good. Journalism is so vital to our democracy that our founders protected it in the First Amendment.

Like many public goods, journalism has always been heavily subsidized. For the past century, the subsidy model has been advertising-supported journalism. But now that model is under threat. As a result of changes to the industry wrought by media consolidation, 24/7 cable news channels and the rise of the Internet, many cities and towns have lost their local newspapers. Meanwhile, slashed budgets and staff layoffs have ravaged local TV newsrooms.

We need to address the policies that have encouraged media companies to gut newsrooms and abandon serious newsgathering. We need policies that will foster a new era of locally rooted journalism. This is not about newspapers specifically; it’s about all kinds of newsrooms. It’s not about protecting old institutions or shoring up outmoded business models; it’s about serving the information needs of local communities.

The future of journalism will likely feature a range of models, and we recognize the need for experimentation, now and in the future. To nurture this kind of innovation, we need to engage in a truly public conversation about what the future of journalism should look like and point policymakers and regulators toward an agenda that will save the news and serve the public good.

Blog Posts

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Press Releases

  • Verizon-AOL Merger Makes No Sense

    May 12, 2015
    WASHINGTON — Verizon Communications plans to buy AOL for $4.4 billion, according to a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. The deal is the telecom giant's latest bid to expand its business to include mobile video and advertising services. If finalized, Verizon would also take control of AOL's online news sites, including Engadget, The Huffington Post and TechCrunch.
  • Who Gets a Press Pass?

    June 9, 2014

    The Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Journalist’s Resource project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy are pleased to release a new report: Who Gets a Press Pass? Media Credentialing Practices in the United States.

  • 42 Free Speech, Open Government and Public Interest Groups Urge the FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

    March 20, 2014
    WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, Free Press and 41 freedom of speech, open government, journalism and public interest groups sent a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to reclassify broadband access services to protect freedom of expression online.
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  • Letter to President Obama Regarding the Next FCC Chair

    On March 27, 2013, the Free Press Action Fund and a coalition of 27 other organizations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to nominate an FCC chair who will "protect the future of communications for all."

    March 29, 2013
  • Free Press Letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates

    Letter from Free Press to the Commission on Presidential Debates regarding the Commission's failure to choose a journalist of color to moderate one of the upcoming presidential debates.

    August 29, 2012
  • Evaluating New Models

    A number of alternative models for the news — recent experiments, longstanding ventures and ideas yet to move beyond the blueprint phase — hold clues for what new press institutions and new forms of journalism may look like.

    June 12, 2012
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News from Around the Web

  • The AOL-Verizon Merger and Net Neutrality

    Center for Responsive Politics
    May 13, 2015

    In the run-up to the FCC decision on Net Neutrality earlier this year, Verizon flexed its lobbying muscle in opposition to rules that would regulate the Internet as a public utility. The company has few peers when it comes to lobbying in the capital, but a network of smaller companies and interests backed the regs publicly and behind the scenes — including AOL. This week, though, Verizon agreed to acquire AOL in a deal reportedly worth $4.4 billion.

  • What the Verizon Merger Means for the Huffington Post and AOL's Biggest Blogs

    Washington Post
    May 13, 2015

    At its core, Verizon's $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL is all about online video. The tie-up gives Verizon access to AOL's digital advertising technology, which will help Verizon earn more money off the videos it hopes consumers will stream over their cellular connections.

  • Civic Hall Beta Member: Tim Karr, Free Press

    January 16, 2015

    This month Civic Hall, the new home for civic tech in New York City, opened its doors to beta members like Tim Karr, of Free Press. Beta members are people working in the civic tech space who have been invited to try out Civic Hall for the month of January: to work in the space and see what it is like, and in turn provide feedback to the Civic Hall team.

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  • Low Power FM Radio

    Low Power FM radio stations are community-based nonprofit outlets that broadcast to neighborhoods and small towns throughout the country.

    LPFM stations have a limited broadcast range of just a few miles, but their impact on communities can be immense. These noncommercial stations inject vibrancy into a radio dial that has suffered from years of media consolidation.

    LPFM stations offer a platform for content and viewpoints that traditional media overlook. These stations foster community identity and serve as hubs for vital safety information during emergencies.

  • Attacks on Public Media

    Every year, for almost a decade, Americans have ranked public television as the institution they trust most. And more than 70 percent of Americans see funding for public television as money “well spent.” Exactly how much do Americans spend to support this resource? Pocket change: The United States spends less than$1.50 per person on public broadcasting — 20 times less than Germany and a whopping 70 times less than Denmark.

  • Press Freedom

    Our democracy needs a robust press to hold our leaders accountable and cover the important issues facing our communities.

    But press freedom is under attack today, with government authorities seizing journalists’ phone records, detaining reporters at border crossings and demanding that journalists reveal the identities of confidential sources.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good