Happy New Year? There’s no denying it: These are troubling times. At Free Press, we share fears of expanding global conflict and what’s in store for this election year. And yet we also feel optimistic about what we can accomplish as we work to build the foundation of a just media system and the true multiracial democracy this country needs.
Here are a few of the things we’re actually looking forward to in 2024:
We will restore Title II and real Net Neutrality once and for all
The fight for a free and open internet has been a top priority at Free Press for more than 15 years. We put the issue of Net Neutrality on the national agenda, we successfully pushed the Obama administration to adopt strong rules and we battled the Trump regime’s efforts to overturn those protections. 2024 will be the year we see the Biden FCC restore these fundamental safeguards.
For the first time in this long journey, the agency is starting off in the right position and committing to restore its authority over the internet. Under the leadership of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC is moving toward a vote in April. We filed nearly 150 pages of extensive comments and analysis in December to bolster the agency’s arguments and debunk the industry’s bogus claims.
Of course, companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — plus their mouthpieces — will continue doing whatever they can to stop the FCC from reinstating its open-internet rules. For proof, check out my NPR debate from last year with Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. The highlight: all the people calling in from across the country to say why they favor Net Neutrality.
We’ll create new support for civic media across the country
We got some incredible news right before the holidays: As part of the Press Forward initiative, the MacArthur Foundation is committing $1 million to Free Press toward the creation of local and state policies that prioritize the information needs of underserved communities. At a time when two local newspapers are shutting down every single week, we’re thrilled to receive this grant and to see significant investments in so many allies who are reshaping and reimagining local media.
With this new investment, we’re expanding our state advocacy efforts to pass new policies that strengthen quality local journalism and civic information, building on our recent successes in New Jersey and California.
We’ll push the media and tech to protect democracy before it’s too late
As my colleague Timothy Karr has detailed, the U.S. media system needs to undertake a deep reckoning for its role in accommodating — and continuing to enable — the rise of Trumpism. The stakes couldn’t be higher in 2024, where we face an existential test for U.S. democracy. While we can’t say we’re exactly looking forward to this year’s coverage, we can promise we’ll be pushing the media to report on the true dangers of Trump’s potential return to power and expose how many news organizations’ profit motives skew their coverage.
We’ll also keep up the pressure on social-media platforms to reverse the rollback of safeguards that threaten free and fair elections. We can’t wait weeks or even months before elections to institute election-protecting policies. “The seeds of lies and of disenfranchisement are planted long before these interventions from platforms get implemented,” Free Press’ Nora Benavidez told The Guardian in December. “We are running out of time.”
We won’t stop dreaming of a future where so much more is possible
While we’ll devote much of our energy and action this year to confronting immediate dangers, we’re thinking far beyond November. Our Media 2070 team continues to both investigate the history that entrenched harmful media narratives and work toward a reparative future that celebrates and cares for Black people.
We got a glimpse of that future via the Black Future Newsstand. Media 2070 and the Black Thought Project debuted this installation in Harlem last June and it has since traveled to Austin. In 2024, Media 2070 will organize more cultural events and publish new historical research.
We’ll continue to celebrate 20 years of changing the media
Free Press just turned 20 — and we’re excited to build on the milestones of our first two decades. Check out our anniversary blog series to learn about some of the wins and key figures from our first two decades, and donate to help support our work to strengthen our democracy.