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FCC Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in the Digital Age

FCC Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in the Digital Age

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Published by MAG-Net
20 MAG-Net Members join New America Foundation, Media Access Project and Free Press in jointly authoring and filing comments to the FCC on the "Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in the Digital Age"
20 MAG-Net Members join New America Foundation, Media Access Project and Free Press in jointly authoring and filing comments to the FCC on the "Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in the Digital Age"

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Published by: MAG-Net on May 08, 2010
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09/07/2012

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Before theFEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSIONWashington, DC 20554In the Matter of 
Examination of the Future of Media andInformation Needs of Communities in aDigital Age
 
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JOINT COMMENTS OFACCESS HUMBOLDT, AFRO-NETIZEN, APPALSHOP, BERKELEY COMMUNITYMEDIA , CALIFORNIA CENTER FOR RURAL POLICY, CENTER FORCOMMUNICATION AND DEMOCRACY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON,
 
CENTER FOR MEDIA JUSTICE, CHICAGO MEDIA ACTION, CENTERFOR RURAL STRATEGIES, DONALD MCGANNON COMMUNICATIONRESEARCH CENTER AT FORDHAM UNIVERSITY , ESPERANZA PEACE ANDJUSTICE CENTER, FREE PRESS , INSTITUTE FOR LOCAL SELF-RELIANCE,MAIN STREET PROJECT, MEDIA ACTION GRASSROOTS NETWORK, MEDIAALLIANCE, MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT, MEDIA MOBILIZING PROJECT, MEDIAJUSTICE LEAGUE, MEDIA LITERACY PROJECT, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FORMEDIA, ART AND CULTURE (NAMAC), NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION , RURALBROADBAND POLICY GROUP, RECLAIM THE MEDIA, SOUTHWESTORGANIZING PROJECT, THOUSAND KITES
May 7, 2010New America Foundation1899 L Street N.W.Suite 400Washington, DC 20036202 986 2700Free Press501 3rd Street NWSuite 875Washington, DC 20001202-265-1490
 
Media Access Project1625 K Street NWWashington, DC 20006202.232.4300
 
 
SUMMARY
New American Foundation, Free Press, and Media Access Project
et al
. respectfully submitthese comments in the FCC’s inquiry into the Future of Media. This proceeding represents anambitious, yet critical undertaking to examine the news and information needs of communities inlight of economic and technological shifts in the media industry.These comments encompass four broad areas for the Commission’s consideration:(1)
 
The information needs of communities and whether they are being met(2)
 
The trends and challenges in the provision of news and information(3)
 
FCC-specific policy recommendations to increase transparency and accountability of media, as well as to promote access to diverse sources of information(4)
 
Policy recommendations that fall outside the FCC’s regulatory jurisdiction, but that arenonetheless an important component of a holistic approach to the crisis in media
 Information Needs of Communities
: While it is true that most people now have access tomore information than at any previous time in human history, it also unfortunately remains thecase that race, gender, income, education, geography, age, disability, and sexual orientation allcontinue to unjustly shape Americans’ opportunities.Many communities, both of identity andgeography, have never been well-served by existing media outlets and infrastructure.Communities of color, native and rural areas have often been excluded from access to robustinfrastructure and emerging technologies, and the issues affecting them have too often beenunexplored by professional journalists. New technologies are creating opportunities to addressthat, but technological change alone will not create equitable representation or access.We determine that despite the proliferation of new technologies that have the potential toenhance access to information, by and large the information needs are not being met. Inparticular, the unevenly distributed nature of the "digital revolution" and the lack of local
 
 
iiinformation equality have a negative impact on both health and economic well being of communities.
Trends and Challenges in the Provision of News and Information
: The digital revolution hasupset old business models – particularly those of the advertising-reliant variety. As aconsequence, there exists a looming – though not certain – market failure in the production andcirculation of publicly relevant news, especially at the local level. Traditional media arescrambling to maintain balance in the new environment, but have been slow to adapt. However,while there is much cause for concern about the ability of the new media environment to meetthe needs of a democratic society, there are also innovations currently underway in newsrooms.While many are in their infancy, they hold the promise for enhancing both production of information as well as engaging communities and individuals in creative new media endeavors.Additionally, new journalistic and civic engagement ecosystems are sprouting up in localnews markets across the country, but these systems are emerging in a halting and unevenfashion. As has been widely noted, many of the newest digital media outlets do little or nooriginal reporting. What’s worse, practices of “digital redlining” and the consequences of themigration of legacy news organizations to suburban markets have the potential to replicatepatterns of clustered “information paucity” that existed in the pre-digital era.
FCC policies can enhance the availability and diversity of information
: The FCC has alegitimate interest and important to role to play in promoting a vibrant Fourth Estate.Historically, the FCC has sought to foster, not only a substantial
quantity
of information, but also
quality
of, as well as access to information by promoting competition, diversity, and localism.We suggest a number of FCC actions, many on existing proceedings that would preserve orenhance the production and availability of news and information. Moreover, none of these

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