2013 Annual Report

2013 Free Press Year in Review

Highlights from the Fight for Your Rights to Connect and Communicate

“Free Press has become a leading presence in the progressive community nationwide, bolstering a faltering democracy in its advocacy of diverse media ownership, press freedom and quality journalism, reinvigorated public broadcasting and universal, affordable Internet access.”

Moyers & Company, Nov. 11, 2013

Free Press Fights Inside and Outside Washington

Free Press is building a powerful nationwide movement to change media and technology policies, promote the public interest and strengthen democracy. Free Press advocates for universal and affordable Internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant public media and quality journalism.

The Free Press Action Fund lobbies for media and technology policies in the public interest. Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund are separate organizations with overlapping boards of directors.

2013 BOARDS OF DIRECTORS

Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund

  • Craig Aaron
    Free Press president and CEO

    Click here to read the 2013 letter from
    Free Press leadership.
  • Michael Copps
    Former commissioner and acting chairman, Federal Communications Commission

  • Olga M. Davidson
    Visiting associate professor, Wellesley College

  • Kim Gandy (board chair)
    President and CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence



  • Maxie Jackson
    Principal at MaxWorx Media

  • Robert W. McChesney
    Free Press co-founder; media scholar and professor at the University of Illinois

  • John Nichols
    Free Press co-founder; author and correspondent at The Nation

  • Liza Pike
    Director, New Media Mentors

  • Josh Silver
    Free Press co-founder; president and CEO, United Republic

  • Loris Taylor
    Executive director, Native Public Media

  • FREE PRESS LEADS THE MOVEMENT.

    Our team in Washington, D.C., drafts policy proposals, conducts research, lobbies and testifies before Congress and argues in court for policies that serve the public interest. Our team in Massachusetts educates and mobilizes activists nationwide. See our staff list at FreePress.net/staff

  • 700,000 MEMBERS TAKE ACTION.

    Members write letters to government and corporate leaders, meet with elected representatives, file comments at the FCC, attend rallies and participate in targeted actions. Join us at FreePress.net/action

  • The Next Generation Steps Up.

    Free Press fellows and interns support Free Press’ advocacy campaigns, conduct research and outreach, and contribute to policy, development, and communications work. Find out more at FreePress.net/internships

  • New Alliances Mobilize Millions.

    We magnify our impact through coalitions and collaborations with more than 100 allied organizations. For just one example, check out Voices for Internet Freedom at InternetVoices.org

Celebrating a Decade of Fighting for Better Media

Free Press hit a major milestone in 2013: We celebrated 10 years of leading the growing movement for better media and a stronger democracy.

When we started Free Press, we knew that if we could tap into people’s desire to change the corrupt media system, we’d be on to something that could transform our democracy. We were right.

Over the past decade this movement has faced off against some of the nation’s most powerful institutions and companies — and won, again and again.

We set out a decade ago to fix the media. But now we face a more fundamental battle: We’re fighting for your rights to connect and communicate.

We’re kicking off our second decade with a campaign that will dramatically grow this movement. We’ll engage the public in creative new ways, forge new alliances, build new champions in Washington — and mobilize millions more activists than ever before. All of this will help us flip the balance of power — and put people’s voices first.

“We’ve had 10 great years of fierce independence, integrity, excellence and learning. Ten years of hard-fought victories. Victories made possible by many of you. Victories made possible by our dedicated members, committed supporters, inspiring allies and the brilliance and grit of the Free Press staff.”

— Free Press Advocacy and Organizing Director Misty Perez Truedson at the Free Press 10th-anniversary celebration

CAMPAIGNING FOR INTERNET FREEDOM

The Internet is our primary space for commercial, cultural, democratic, economic and educational innovation and exchange. Yet our rights to free expression, communication and privacy online are under constant attack. Free Press promotes policies that protect the Internet’s free and open architecture, enable everyone to get online, and safeguard our fundamental freedoms.

Restoring Net Neutrality

Free Press spent much of 2013 preparing to respond to a crucial federal court decision on the future of the open Internet. On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet rules in the case of Verizon v. FCC. As a result, the FCC can no longer prevent Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with websites, applications or services.

What Is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the basic principle that keeps the Internet free and open. Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron explained it on PBS NewsHour:

“Without Net Neutrality you’ll experience videos that don’t load, tweets and texts that disappear and websites that freeze and fail. The fast lanes will be reserved for the players with the deepest pockets, while the rest of us will be stuck on the slow road. The Internet you know and love will start to look a lot like cable TV, where a big company picks and chooses the channels for you.”

(Jan. 15, 2014)
free press

Free Press delivers more than 1 million petitions to the FCC alongside allies ColorOfChange, Common Cause, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Presente.org, and RootsAction.

Free Press Members Get Rapid Results

Within minutes of the court’s decision, Free Press was analyzing the ruling, organizing a coordinated response among dozens of allied groups, mobilizing our base and helping the press make sense of complex issues. The reaction from the public and the press was remarkable.

  • Free Press was cited in the media more than 400 times, and our staff appeared on outlets including CNN, NPR and the PBS NewsHour.

  • A Free Press-led coalition delivered more than 1 MILLION PETITIONS to the FCC on Jan. 30.

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s memorable response: “A million people? That’s boffo!”

  • More than 75,000 NEW ACTIVISTS joined Free Press in less than TWO WEEKS.

The FCC Must Act

The court ruling came with a silver lining: The judges left open a clear path to restore the FCC’s authority to craft new Net Neutrality rules and protect people online. The court didn’t rule against the merits of Net Neutrality — it simply rejected the FCC’s approach. The FCC has the power to restore Net Neutrality by “reclassifying broadband” — and defining it under the law as a telecommunications service, which is how the FCC had treated the Internet prior to issuing a shortsighted ruling in 2002. Reclassifying is the only way to stop Internet service providers from blocking websites or discriminating against online traffic.

How We’ll Win

The FCC will act only if we build public awareness and inspire the political will to do the right thing. The months ahead in 2014 will be the most crucial in this fight. Here’s what Free Press will do to save the Internet:

  • Ramp up our advocacy. Free Press is a proven advocate at the FCC. We’ll make clear and compelling arguments to policymakers and give them the legal basis and policy fixes to act in the public interest. To shape the debate and influence decision-makers, we’ll maintain an aggressive press strategy.

  • Push lawmakers to ensure the FCC gets it right. The Free Press Action Fund will champion Net Neutrality on Capitol Hill. We’ll also mobilize our 700,000 members and set up meetings and events that bring people face-to-face with their elected representatives.

  • Mobilize the public to demand that the FCC protect the Internet. We’ll inspire our members to step up their actions and reach out to millions more. We’ll coordinate with a broad array of allies, Internet companies, small-business groups, students, gamers and others to take this issue outside Washington and around the world. And via our Voices for Internet Freedom network, we’ll prioritize outreach to communities of color.

  • Connect the dots. Web censorship. Unchecked government spying and corporate surveillance. Secretive international trade agreements. Attacks on press freedom. The undue influence of corporate money in politics. All of these problems and many more intersect with the fight to restore Net Neutrality — and linking them is essential to building the broad-based movement we need to win. Free Press will connect these issues for policymakers, our allies and the public.

ENDING MASS SURVEILLANCE

A thousand people attended a July 4th NYC rally where Free Press’ Timothy Karr spoke: “Protesting against unchecked government power is one of the greatest patriotic acts.”

U.S. intelligence agencies are monitoring the communications of Americans, which has dramatic and negative impacts on a host of constitutionally guaranteed liberties. This spying chills free expression, threatens Internet freedom and press freedom, and violates everyone’s right to privacy. Free Press is organizing and mobilizing millions of Americans and a broad range of allies to end unchecked government surveillance.

Emerging Voice for Privacy

Within hours of the revelations in June about widespread NSA spying, Free Press launched the StopWatching.Us network along with the ACLU, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups. We’ve coordinated more than 100 organizations, representing businesses and constituencies from across the political spectrum.

Following Edward Snowden’s initial disclosures about the spying, StopWatching.Us mobilized more than 600,000 people to call on Congress to demand accountability and restore oversight of intelligence agencies. As the public outcry intensified, Congress held a close vote on reining in government spying — with an amendment to defund key NSA activities falling just seven votes short in the House of Representatives in July.

Leading the Public Outcry

As public sentiment swung against the spying in late summer, Free Press capitalized on the political moment and organized dozens of in-district meetings, like the one pictured below in Denver, where members of Congress heard their constituents’ concerns about NSA spying.

“Yesterday’s meeting at Rep. DeGette’s office certainly helped me clarify my thinking on exactly why NSA surveillance is so dangerous. It was a bit intimidating for me but a positive experience. Thankfully my group mates were very eloquent and outspoken. It is great of Free Press to organize such important meetings.”

— Dave Ashton, Free Press member from Denver

Free Press was also a primary organizer of October’s Rally Against Mass Surveillance in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people attended the protest and millions more joined in online, watching the event’s livestream and participating via social media. Major news outlets from around the globe covered the rally.

“This isn’t about right and left — it’s about right and wrong.”

— Free Press President Craig Aaron (Oct. 26, 2013)

Two days before the rally, Free Press held “Enemies of the State,” a panel discussion exploring the history of government spying on communities of color. A standing-room-only crowd discussed both the government’s interception of digital data and local law enforcement’s reliance on racial profiling, stop-and-frisk and other discriminatory tactics.

free press

Just after the rally, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records and require more oversight and transparency of the agency. More than 100 co-sponsors have since signed on. The Free Press Action Fund will continue advocating for the bill, which calls for the most significant rollback of surveillance activities since the Patriot Act was enacted in 2001.

Most recently, StopWatching.Us allies organized more than 5,000 websites to join an online protest on Feb. 11, 2014, heralded as “The Day We Fight Back.” Some 37 million people saw the Day We Fight Back banners on participating websites. In one day, we drove 89,000 calls to members of Congress and another 555,000 emails to Congress. At the event’s peak, more than 5,000 calls an hour went to Capitol Hill.

Stopping the Spying

As new revelations continued to emerge over the course of 2013, public sentiment shifted squarely against mass surveillance. Now is our best chance in a decade to overturn the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and rein in unconstitutional activities. Legal challenges will be an important tool in this campaign. New technology to circumvent surveillance is key. But the most important fight is political. The spying will continue unless decision-makers feel political pressure from beyond the Beltway. A popular movement demanding change is the only way to spur Washington to take action.

Free Press will unite a broad network of organizations and advocates to mobilize the public in the campaign to end the spying. Working with StopWatching.Us allies and groups that represent communities of color, we’ll coordinate a national field strategy to ensure that lawmakers from every part of the country understand that Americans will not tolerate unconstitutional spying on our every communication.

“Free Press just amazes me. You have no idea how many hours Free Press put into putting this event together.”

— Electronic Frontier Foundation Advocacy Director Rainey Reitman

FIGHTING FOR MEDIA DIVERSITY

Huge Win: FCC Ditches Media Consolidation Proposal

Free Press is the primary group promoting media diversity and organizing people to speak out against media consolidation. In 2012, the FCC proposed weakening its media ownership rules to allow a company to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in a single media market. After Free Press led a coalition of public interest and civil rights groups against the changes, the FCC announced in February 2013 that it would delay voting on the proposal. In December, the FCC, by then under a new chairman, announced that it was dropping the plan altogether. This is a major blow to barons like Rupert Murdoch — and a victory for independent voices.

This is the third time in the past decade that Free Press has defeated the FCC’s attempts to gut its media ownership limits.

Exposing Illegal Media Consolidation

While Free Press has stopped the FCC from gutting its media ownership rules, broadcasters have found new ways to evade them. 2013 was the biggest year ever in local TV station acquisitions. Free Press is challenging several major deals and is pushing the FCC to close the loopholes that have led to this runaway consolidation.

In October, Free Press released new research — featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal — showing how corporations like Gannett, the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune are using shell companies to control more local TV stations than the FCC’s ownership rules permit. Our research prompted the Justice Department and the FCC to examine Sinclair’s dealings more closely. In early 2014, the Justice Department urged the FCC to address the problem of covert consolidation. And in March, the FCC closed a loophole that TV broadcasters had exploited to control multiple stations in the same market.

The FCC’s decision, spurred by Free Press research, marks the agency’s first move to rein in media consolidation in more than three decades.

“The FCC needs to wake up to what’s happening on local TV — which is still the No. 1 source for news in America,” said Free Press President Craig Aaron. “Wall Street may be overjoyed at this merger mania, but the rest of us should be very worried about having fewer viewpoints on the air and fewer reporters on the beat.”

(July 1, 2013)

Free Press created an interactive map showing how four companies are devouring local TV markets in an unprecedented wave of mergers.

Pioneering Research to Shape Better Media Policy

Free Press released two major reports on media ownership in 2013:

  • Cease to Resist: How the FCC’s Failure to Enforce Its Rules Created a New Wave of Media Consolidation (October 2013). The report investigates how companies are using shady tactics to buy up TV stations and build media empires.

    • In the first eight months of 2013, 211 full-power TV stations changed hands, the highest level in more than a decade.
    • In the past two years, Sinclair has brokered deals that will increase its holdings from 58 to 161 stations nationwide.
    • These deals will more than double the number of markets Sinclair serves from 35 to 78, covering nearly 39 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Combating the Cable Cabal: How to Fix America’s Broken Video Market (May 2013). This groundbreaking report analyzed why cable rates increase annually at three times the rate of inflation and presents policies that would bring consumers more choices and lower prices.

    • In November, Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduced sweeping legislation that could transform the video market; the bill features many of our recommendations.

Free Press organized rallies outside the newspaper offices of Tribune properties in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities around the country.

Win: Saving Our News from the Koch Brothers

In May, Free Press and the Coalition to Save Our News organized a nationwide protest to oppose the rumored sale of eight Tribune Company newspapers to the Koch brothers, who hoped to use media holdings to push a political agenda. In opposing the sale of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune papers to the Kochs or News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, Free Press joined forces with Common Cause, the Courage Campaign Institute, CREDO Action, DailyKos, Forecast the Facts, Greenpeace, SEIU and Working Families.

In August, the Kochs said that they would not bid on the papers.

Tribune stepped away from the idea of selling to the Koch brothers two months ago. Chairman of the Board Bruce Karsh balked at the sale after widespread outcry, which included loud protests in front of his Beverly Hills house.

(Aug. 22, 2013)

DEFENDING PRESS FREEDOM

NSA Chief Keith Alexander speaks out against reporters covering surveillance.

In 2013, U.S. authorities harassed journalists, seized their phone records, and threatened them with prosecution for “aiding and abetting” whistleblowers. In response, Free Press organized a broad coalition of more than 60 civil liberties, digital rights, press freedom and public interest groups to demand a full, transparent account of the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists and whistleblowers. After we submitted our coalition’s letter and petitions, the Department did a major review and revised its guidelines and procedures.

After journalist Glenn Greenwald exposed the NSA’s spying programs in June, U.S. authorities began pressuring him to destroy the documents Edward Snowden had leaked. In response, Free Press delivered 78,000 petitions urging the Justice Department to end the intimidation of journalists and their families. Attorney General Holder subsequently stated that the DoJ was not planning to prosecute Greenwald. 

New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane said that sources are now “scared to death” to even talk about unclassified, everyday issues.

“It’s having a deterrent effect. If we consider aggressive press coverage of government activities being at the core of American democracy, this tips the balance heavily in favor of the government.”

(Oct. 10, 2013)

Seeding a Press Freedom Movement

If we want more hard-hitting journalism, more government transparency and more corporate accountability, we need to stand up for journalists who are on the front lines. Their rights are our rights, and everyone engaged in acts of journalism deserves the American public’s support. Free Press is working to empower reporters, new media makers, and their audiences to become First Amendment advocates.

This is how Free Press is growing a new movement for press freedom in the United States.

  • Research

    Protecting All Acts of Journalism: Defining Press Freedom in the Digital Age (October 2013) combines case studies with legal and academic analyses to define what it means to engage in journalism. The paper asserts that the law should protect all acts of journalism:

    “The rise of professional journalism in the 20th century helped create a certain image of reporters. ... But the rise of digital technology and the democratizing power of the Internet have fundamentally challenged that image.”

  • Policy Advocacy

    Free Press worked to strengthen the Free Flow of Information Act, a journalism “shield law” that upholds journalists’ rights to protect information during government investigations. We sought to ensure that the bill would protect all acts of journalism. As a result of our work, late last summer the Senate amended the bill to expand the definition of whom it covers, allowing a broader range of journalists to protect their sources. In the year ahead, we’ll work with allies to close loopholes in the bill that exempt journalists covering national security issues from protection.

  • Storytelling

    Around the country people are committing acts of journalism in service to their communities. These new citizen reporters are influencing national debates and changing the face of journalism. Free Press is telling their stories to raise awareness about what constitutes journalism — and therefore deserves protection.

  • Drawing Connections

    In the fight for press freedom and better news coverage, we must show the impact of the marginalization and suppression of independent voices. For example, in February 2013 Free Press and Orion Magazine organized a Web chat to discuss the lack of climate-change coverage in America. Hundreds of people attended the event, which featured leading environmental writers and journalists like Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones, climate activists like 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and scientists like Thomas Lovejoy, creator of the PBS show Nature.

In the year ahead, Free Press will continue working with allied leaders of other national movements to connect and collaborate on a range of press freedom, media justice and open government issues at the local, state and national levels. To organize a broad network for press freedom, we’ll connect longstanding journalism groups, bloggers and citizen journalists with digital rights advocates and the legal and technological communities. We’ll also engage press freedom advocates in our campaigns on media consolidation, Net Neutrality and mass surveillance.

BUILDING PEOPLE POWER

In 2013, Free Press’ member base grew to 650,000 people fighting for their rights to connect and communicate. The map below shows where our U.S. activists live. We surpassed 700,000 members in the early weeks of 2014, and our activists hail from all 50 states and 180 countries.

Free Press Member Distribution*

Standing Strong …

In 2013, Free Press members took more than 800,000 actions for better media in response to the 500-plus outreaches we sent. Our members sign petitions, meet with their members of Congress, volunteer at events, attend protests and rallies, write letters to the editor and spread the word to their friends and neighbors on ways to get involved.

… And Getting Stronger

We believe that organized people can be more powerful than organized money. We’re committed to growing a diverse movement of Free Press members and allies to advance media policies in the public interest. To amplify this movement’s power in the years ahead, we’ll deepen the skills, knowledge base and lobbying capacity of our members and allies to influence policymakers and turn them into champions for better media. And to make our movement’s leadership as inclusive as possible, we’ll focus on working with people from traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities, including women, youth and people of color.

Shaping the Agenda

Free Press works to disrupt corporate-government collusion and expose those who work against the public interest. Our blog posts and social media explain how media issues shape people’s lives. To heighten our impact, Free Press staff deploy to events across the United States and around the world to spread the word about the fight for your rights to connect and communicate. See below for some of the highlights from our work in 2013.

  • We earned 900+ quotes and mentions in top media outlets like the Associated Press, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, NPR, Reuters, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

  • We published 45 Op-Eds in forums like Boing Boing, the Huffington Post, the Newark Star-Ledger, the Seattle Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Talking Points Memo and Wired, reaching millions of readers.

  • 4,000+ tweets to 67,000 followers were retweeted 16,000+ times, reaching 130 million people.

  • We ran 300+ blog posts. Our most popular piece, “Meet the New CISPA. Same as the Old CISPA,” received more than 93,000 hits.

  • Staff attended or Free Press sponsored 131 events, including forums in six countries outside the United States.

  • Free Press organized 20 major events, including the Washington anti-spying rally, high-profile panel discussions, a Web chat on journalists’ rights and our national conference in Denver.

Shaking Up the Halls of Power

Bringing real people face-to-face with decision-makers is a hallmark of our work to amplify the public’s voice. In the summer of 2013, the Free Press Action Fund brought scores of activists into meetings with their members of Congress to advocate for Internet freedom, press freedom and diverse media ownership. An additional 200 members used our online tools to prepare talking points for meetings they organized.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal met with five activists and two staff representatives from the Free Press Action Fund on the last hour of the working day right before the Fourth of July holiday. … We had lots of back-and-forth debate with the senator for almost a full hour. We weren’t sure of the outcome when we were there. But two weeks later, the senator became the first Democratic co-sponsor of the Television Consumer Freedom Act — actually propelling it into the sacred territory of bipartisanship that is so needed for anything to move in Washington.

Free Press member Greg Burrill on his meeting with Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office in Portland, Ore.: “This is the first organization to contact me about activism that I can enthusiastically support. I’m a teacher, so I don’t take time off from work during the school year for most activism.”

“The meeting helped me develop some competency in talking policy directly with policymakers and their staff. The experience made me feel more involved in the work of Free Press and higher-level policy.” — Nolan Morice on his meeting with Rep. Keith Ellison’s office in Minneapolis

Up-and-Coming Advocates

Free Press interns Raechel Kelley, Alexandra Bunnell and Kyle Lunt at the National Conference for Media Reform

Three graduate fellows and nine undergraduate interns gave a tremendous boost to our work in 2013. They coordinated volunteers at the National Conference for Media Reform. They supported our new press freedom research. They prepared hundreds of people to meet with their lawmakers. Many of them participated in Free Press’ summertime Media Action Boot Camp, a ten-week training for young activists who want to hone their skills as advocates and organizers.

“I’m leaving my summer internship feeling energized, motivated and inspired. Working at Free Press showed me that there are other people who care about the same media policy issues that I do, and that we have the power to actually do something about them!”

— Nancy Pierce

THE 2013 NATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR MEDIA REFORM

Convening the Movement

In April, 1,500 people descended on Denver for an event like no other. Over the course of three days in the Mile High City, conference-goers took in more than 80 panel discussions, a film festival, book signings with 23 acclaimed writers, more than a dozen hands-on workshops, art galleries, and high-energy main-stage events packed with inspiring speeches and performances.

Hear from some of the attendees:

  • Got a Job

    “Free Press sets a high standard and inspires others to do more. At their National Conference for Media Reform, I came seeking inspiration and left with a job working to solve the media issues we critiqued in the conference. If someone needs an example of a small group of committed individuals changing the world, I’d suggest looking toward Free Press. I wish more nonprofits were so bold.”

    — Urvi Nagrani
  • Gained Perspective

    “I’ve always understood the value of a fair and unbiased media, but attending the National Conference for Media Reform opened my eyes to the need to have a range of voices. What’s missing is perspective, and with perspective comes freedom. As a young woman of color, I was lucky to find people who look like me speaking about important issues at the conference. Usually the only times teenagers of color see themselves in the media is in stories about teen pregnancy or gang violence. This conference changed my perspective on what a media maker or journalist can look like, and it made me realize that I too can be a journalist.”

  • Found Resources and Ideas

    “While sitting down with two individuals at the National Conference for Media Reform, I got great ideas for my own research and resources that helped me develop a more realistic idea of what to do and how to do it. I’m going to be a Free Press member for life.”

    — Carl McCargo, retired clinical psychologist
  • From Activist to Ally

    MobilizeUs start-up founder Debra Brown’s first contact with Free Press was a Net Neutrality petition, which led her to make a video for Rep. Jared Polis on Net Neutrality’s impact on small businesses. When Verizon blocked the phone numbers she used for her text-messaging service, Debra turned to Free Press for advice. Then this Denver resident served on the host committee for the National Conference for Media Reform. At the conference, Debra met filmmaker Jean-Philippe Tremblay at the U.S. premiere of his documentary Shadows of Liberty. Now in 2014, Debra has organized a 15-stop U.S. tour of the film, bringing its messages about the corporate media to new audiences.

    “I first got involved with Free Press because of my business interests, but I have come to understand that the fight for media reform is hands down the most important issue of our time! It has a profound impact on our ability to address other social justice issues.”

    — Debra Brown (pictured center with a group of attendees at a film screening in Bernardston, Mass.)

FOSTERING DIVERSITY

Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice leads a workshop on prison phone justice at the National Conference for Media Reform.

Free Press reaches out to and partners with the communities our issues impact the most. Free Press is committed to advancing gender and racial equity both within our organization and the movement as a whole. To do this we’re bolstering the leadership of women, youth and people of color. We’re building diverse, winning coalitions. And through campus outreach and our internship program, we’re recruiting and training the next generation of advocates.

To engage groups that represent communities of color, we’ll continue to partner with the Center for Media Justice on the Voices for Internet Freedom project. We’ll connect the experiences people of color have had with surveillance to the history and culture of surveillance in the United States. And Free Press staff will give presentations on race and the media at college campuses and other venues around the country.

Spotlighting Diversity

At the National Conference for Media Reform, a majority of presenters were people of color, discussing topics ranging from Native American sovereignty and media rights to coverage of race in the Obama era. Women also played a prominent role, and several sessions focused on women’s inroads in the tech world. Youth were also featured throughout the conference program and played key roles in our main-stage events.

Sounding the Alarm on Plummeting Diversity

“There are now zero black-owned and operated full-power TV stations in our country,” said Joseph Torres and Derek Turner of Free Press. “It’s hard to fathom the sorry state of broadcast ownership during the administration of our nation’s first black president. ”

(Dec. 23, 2013)

Oakland Town Hall with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in January 2014

Winning Media Justice

In August, Free Press celebrated a long-sought order at the FCC to reduce exorbitant and predatory calling rates for millions of prisoners and their families. The FCC vote followed more than a decade of activism and policy work by a coalition spearheaded by members of the Civil Rights and Media Justice Table, including Free Press. Free Press lent its organizing muscle to the coalition, arranged lobbying visits to lawmakers and drafted the coalition’s legal comments filed at the FCC.

Amplifying Marginalized Voices

In early January 2014, Free Press helped organize a standing-room-only town hall in Oakland, Calif.,with new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and hundreds of Bay Area residents. Developed in partnership with the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the event gave community members, including local allies, a chance to share their stories about how media policies impact people of color.

2013 Financial Year in Review*

Free Press

Revenue

Unrestricted Contributions $ 2,190,707
Temporarily Restricted Contributions $ 1,545,000
Conference and Other Revenue $ 115,288
Investment Income $ 30,399
Total Revenue: $ 3,881,394

Expenses

Internet Freedom and Press Freedom Programs $ 2,597,046
Conferences and Events $ 450,215
Fundraising $ 430,141
Management and Governance $ 250,506
Total Expenses: $ 3,727,908

Free Press Action Fund

Revenue

Unrestricted Contributions $ 285,673
Membership $ 74,781
Investment Income $ 230
Total Revenue: $ 360,684

Expenses

Internet Freedom and Press Freedom Programs $ 259,758
Fundraising $ 33,212
Management and Governance $ 18,284
Total Expenses: $ 311,254

*The fiscal year for Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund extends Jan. 1 – Dec. 31.

For more information, see the complete audited financial statements and accompanying notes on our website at freepress.net/about.

Donors to Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund

Free Press received 2,492 contributions, ranging from $5 to $700,000, with an average contribution of $823.

The Free Press Action Fund received 3,178 contributions, ranging from $5 to $200,000, with an average contribution of $50.

Top 20 Donors

  • Brett Family Foundation
  • Bright Horizon Fund at the Fidelity Fund
  • craigslist Charitable Fund
  • Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
  • Ford Foundation
  • Foundation to Promote Open Society
  • Lederer Foundation
  • Overbrook Foundation
  • Park Foundation
  • Peter B. Lewis Philanthropy
  • Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  • San Francisco Foundation
  • Solidago Foundation
  • Steve and Paula Child Foundation
  • Sy Syms Foundation
  • Voqal Fund
  • Vanguard Charitable Trust
  • William B. Weiner Jr. Foundation
  • Woodcock Foundation
  • Working Assets/CREDO Customer-Donation Program

We do not publicize the names of individual donors. Three institutional donors chose to exercise their right to privacy and remain anonymous.

Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund are supported by gifts and grants from individuals, private foundations and public charities. Neither organization accepts funding from business, government, or political parties.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

The fight for your rights to connect and communicate is people-powered.

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If you prefer to give by phone, call toll-free at 1-877-888-1533. Thank you!

“These folks stand up for truth, media integrity and community-based journalism.”

— Craig Newmark, donor, ally and craigslist founder
 

Dear Friends,

As we reflect on 2013, we find ourselves in the middle of some of the biggest fights yet over the future of free speech and the open Internet.

In the early weeks of 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., dismantled Net Neutrality protections for Internet users — giving companies like AT&T and Verizon free rein to block or discriminate against websites and Internet services. In February, Comcast — the nation’s No. 1 cable and Internet provider — announced a deal to acquire No. 2 cable giant Time Warner Cable. And almost every day we learn more about how the National Security Agency, working hand-in-glove with corporations, is spying on our communications.

Make no mistake: This kind of corporate-government collusion is undermining your basic rights and civil liberties. There’s never been more at stake in the fight for your rights to connect and communicate.

It’s a fight we know we can win. People like you everywhere are fed up with the media. You’re tired of being lied to, misrepresented and ripped off. You want to control your online experiences. You want privacy. And you want your leaders in Washington to listen to you rather than industry lobbyists.

In 2013, Free Press celebrated 10 years of leading a movement for better media. Our movement also became bigger, louder, stronger and more diverse: We now have over 700,000 members who are more engaged than ever before.

We celebrated many victories in 2013. In April, we brought together thousands of advocates for better media, open technology and a healthier democracy at the National Conference for Media Reform in Denver. In June, Free Press was one of the key forces behind the StopWatching.Us network, uniting more than 100 groups representing millions of Americans from across the political spectrum to oppose mass surveillance. In October, we organized the biggest domestic protest ever held against unchecked spying. We also coordinated protests across the country last summer to stop the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch from buying the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. And in December, we cheered when our advocacy helped push the Federal Communications Commission to abandon its plans to allow more media consolidation.

These victories show that we must fight for better media to safeguard democracy on all fronts. If we don’t challenge the moneyed interests that influence so much of what happens in our country, we won’t have a democracy — only an unholy alliance between corrupt politicians and predatory corporations. If we don’t change the media, we won’t be able to address the climate crisis, overhaul Wall Street, or make progress on any other important issue.

We’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years. Above all else, we know that with amazing supporters and activists like you by our side, we can make a real difference.

On behalf of our staff, our board and our members, thank you for your incredible support in helping us carry out the crucial campaigns highlighted in the following pages. Free Press doesn’t take money from business, government or political parties and is powered solely by contributions from individuals, foundations and public charities. We rely on and greatly appreciate your generosity as we move forward to even larger battles.

Onward —

  • staff

    Craig Aaron

    President and CEO

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  • staff

    Kim Gandy

    Chair of the Boards of Directors

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People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good