This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
published by Free Press www.freepress.net
SavetheInternet.com Takes to the Streets
Handing out waffles in front of the FCC — to protest the waffling FCC chairman
ee if you can answer this: Which Free Press campaign has been resorting to some new, creative and even tasty tactics in its goal to protect Internet users and preserve the free flow of communications online? Why, SavetheInternet.com, of course.
Stop the Fake News Invasion Public Would Lose if Comcast Deal Is Approved
One morning in late September, we surprised the Federal Communications Commission with breakfast: waffles, to be exact. We thought the food was a fitting symbol given how FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski continues to waver on Net Neutrality rules. Our street theater was a hit, drawing public attention to an agency that appears unwilling to protect the open Internet. Our waffle breakfast was staged just days after the one-year anniversary of
Genachowski’s pledge to deliver on Net Neutrality. To remind the chairman, the FCC and the public of the still unmet promise, we published a report, In His Own Words: Julius Genachowski’s Vision of Real Net Neutrality. Free Press also placed an ad in Politico calling on the FCC to stop delaying and start moving to restore its authority to protect Internet users. But that’s not all that’s been happening at SavetheInternet.com. In August, when Google and Verizon announced their disastrous plan to build a private Internet and gut Net Neutrality protections on wireless devices, we launched a campaign that targeted their underhanded efforts. More than 350,000 people signed a Free Press petition urging Google to stand by continued inside…
LE T TER FROM THE P RESID EN T/CEO
Free Press Massachusetts Office 40 Main Street, Suite 301 Florence, MA 01062 Ph 413.585.1533 Washington Office 501 Third St. NW, Suite 875 Washington, DC 20001 Ph 202.265.1490 www.freepress.net email@example.com Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund Boards of Directors Tim Wu, Chair Columbia University Law School Marcy Carsey Carsey Werner Company Liza Cohen Pike Resource Media Olga M. Davidson Wellesley College Kim Gandy Feminist Majority Maxie C. Jackson III National Federation of Community Broadcasters Martin Kaplan University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication Robert W. McChesney University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign John Nichols Capital Times Loris Ann Taylor Native Public Media About Media Reform News is published by Free Press, a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Contents ©2010 Free Press.
Seven years ago, a handful of us took a bold step: In the face of undeniable — and mounting — threats to critical journalism and freedom of expression in the United States, we created a national media advocacy organization to defend and promote the public interest, no matter who is at the helm in Washington. What began with three staff and a handful of activists is today a team of nearly 40 and a movement of half a million people working together to safeguard the universal, affordable, uncensored Internet and hard-hitting journalism that our democracy depends on. So much has changed because of our efforts. The public is no longer shut out of media policymaking sessions where industry giants once wrote the rules behind closed doors. We have a seat at the table and a voice that cannot be ignored. Our accomplishments have come about through the activism and financial support of hundreds of thousands of individuals and foundations across the country. And yet, so much remains to be done. For America to continue to be a global leader, our media system must be democratic, diverse and trusted. But our media policy is too tightly tethered to the influence of industry. The result: Our media system is holding us back instead of serving as the engine that propels us forward. As I look ahead to our next seven years, I anticipate many new challenges that will test our commitment and stamina. Huge mergers like Comcast-NBC continue to pose a threat; powerful corporations like Comcast and AT&T are spending tens of millions to put up toll booths on the Internet; and newsrooms are closing every year, leaving Americans with fewer and fewer sources of original reporting. We know that every issue we care about, from education to the environment, from health care to the economy, depends on the work we are doing to foster a connected, informed electorate. But we need to get the word out to an even broader audience and get them involved. So please, tell your family, friends and anyone else who will listen about Free Press and media reform. Forward our e-mails, blog posts, tweets and more — and ask them to join this movement. And finally: Thank you for your tireless support and profound commitment to better media and a better democracy. It’s because of you that Free Press has built a reputation as a tireless public watchdog. Here’s to the next seven years! Onward,
Josh Silver President and CEO
Public Would Lose if Comcast Deal Is Approved
Staff Profile: Aparna Sridhar, Free Press Policy Counsel A
parna Sridhar has never given serious thought to working for anything but the public interest. Her focus on systemic problems — in media, elections and the judiciary system — began in high school. “No matter what you think about the environment or immigration or foreign policy or health care — those three things all together determine how decisions get made.”
Imagine if your local cable company, Internet service provider and broadcast station were all owned by the same corporation. Then imagine that corporation also owned cable channels, a major broadcast network and a movie studio. Sound far-fetched? If Comcast succeeds in its bid to acquire NBC Universal, this nightmare could become reality for millions of American consumers. Comcast is the nation’s largest cable company, largest Internet service provider, and a leading provider of regional cable sports and network news. NBC is one of just four national broadcast networks, an icon of national and local news and a producer of popular television programming. Analysts have estimated that if the merger is approved, Comcast-NBC could control one in every five hours of television viewing in Comcast markets, and as much as a quarter of channels on the most popular cable packages. The merger would mean higher prices for consumers and fewer choices in programming and services, and it would stifle innovation in the emerging market for online video. Free Press, along with other consumer, labor and industry groups, is opposing the merger, which would harm consumers, innovation and competition. Tens of thousands of people have already weighed in against the deal, which is under review by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. Both agencies are expected to reach a decision on the deal by early 2011. To add your voice and help stop this merger, go to www.freepress.net/comcast
The daughter of a physicist and an aeronautical engineer, Aparna grew up in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. A research project on the Warren Court sparked her fascination with the idea of law as a way to make social and political change. Aparna graduated from Harvard and got her law degree from Stanford. She started out as an election lawyer at a private law firm, but her desire to do more policy-focused work led her to the media field. “I wanted to do something that was more cross-cutting,” she says. “And working for Free Press just seems like the right place at the right time.” As policy counsel for Free Press, Aparna works on litigation, policy and strategy. She described a typical day: staff meeting at the office; a visit to meet FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s new chief of staff; phone calls with professors about broadband issues; a strategy session back at the office; and time spent doing research and writing on Net Neutrality and the reclassification of broadband under the Communications Act. “I really like that I work for an organization where everyone is working toward the same goal. In Washington, I think, that working with people that are committed to a set of principles is a privilege.” Of course, she muses, there are other organizations that are committed to principles. “But they may
Free Press Policy Counsel Aparna Sridhar
be working toward the wrong set of principles,” she says with an easy laugh. Away from the office, Aparna likes to cook (“anything with lemon and garlic”), listen to music (Mates of State and Au Revoir Simone are current favorites), and has a longstanding allegiance to This American Life. She’s also a runner who enjoys competing in 5k and 10k races. Aparna’s mission: “Fast, affordable broadband for everyone and preserving an open and vibrant Internet, especially for noncommercial purposes. And making sure that the FCC is a regulatory agency that oversees this really critical infrastructure. Whether or not we’ll get there during my time at Free Press, or even in our lifetime, is an open question. But it’s a battle worth fighting.”
Stop the Fake News Invasion T
his is a public service announcement: Fake news is invading our airwaves. In an age when consumers can mute and fastforward commercial breaks, advertisers are looking for ways to sell you products where you least expect it: in your local newscast. “Fake news” is advertising that is embedded in news segments and disguised as real news. You’ve seen it before — though you might not realize it. A news story about popular cars or a hospital offering a new cancer treatment is featured in a nightly newscast. The problem is the segment was paid for by the car manufacturer or hospital itself and placed by a PR firm. And your local station never disclosed that to you. Or a paid “expert” will appear on live newscasts purporting to be an authority on something. Stations provide these spokespeople with a free platform to pitch products they have, in some cases, been paid over $10,000 an item to promote. These promotional spots are never disclosed to viewers as paid advertisements, and understaffed newsrooms all over the country are increasingly airing fake news because it saves them the time and expense of producing real news. Fake news has no place in our newscasts, and it’s clearly against Federal Communications Commission rules. The FCC, however, has left a large, well-documented body of complaints lingering and has yet to stop the practice. The longer the agency sits on its hands, the further the fake news invasion spreads.
spokesperson) who was hired by DWJ Television, which has in turn received big bucks to promote toys via satellite media tours. Further research yields plenty of other DWJ sales pitches. In one segment, Lisa Beres, a “certified green building expert,” touts products that purport to keep your home safe from dangerous toxins. She goes from station to station with her table of goodies, making claims that an air purifier (available at Lowes. com!) in every room will protect you from a newly constructed home that is releasing chemicals. Whatever your opinion on green-washing, this ain’t news, folks. It’s advertising.
In 2006 and 2007, Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) led the charge against fake news and sent a petition to the FCC, backed by tens of thousands of supporters, urging the agency to curb the practice. CMD’s research found 110 TV stations that had aired fake news, and documented 138 instances of undisclosed fake news. Five years later, only two of these 138 complaints have resulted in action by the FCC, totaling a measly $20,000 in fines that have never been paid. Hardly a stellar record of enforcement. And while the FCC drags its feet, fake news continues to fester. Last month, after the Los Angeles Times revealed new instances of fake news, we again asked the FCC to hold broadcasters accountable.
SAVE THE DATE April 8-10, 2011, Boston
More Documentation Needed
Little threat of disciplinary action means it’s open season for broadcasters to keep airing fake news. The Los Angeles Times has documented new instances of fake news on 10 TV stations across the country. Elizabeth Werner is a “toy expert” (read:
MEDIA. TECHNOLOGY. DEMOCRACY.
The National Conference for Media Reform
Register now at www.freepress.net/conference
continued from the front page… its motto, “Don’t Be Evil.” And we organized a public protest outside Google headquarters in California that was featured on the BBC and The Daily Show as well as in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. That same month, more than 750 people turned out to show their support for Net Neutrality and free speech online at a public hearing that we helped organize in Minneapolis. FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn listened to hours of impassioned public testimony about the future of the Internet. But it was Minnesota Sen. Al Franken who stole the show and told a cheering crowd that Net Neutrality was the “free speech issue of our time.” And a thousand people were able to catch the hearing online thanks to a live stream provided by the Minnesota citizen journalist project, The Uptake. And we’re just getting warmed up. Stay tuned, and stay involved. Visit www.SavetheInternet.com to take action now.
How Do You Want to Be Remembered?
If you had $1 million to give away, how would you divide the money? What if you only had $100? How you answer these questions says something about what matters most to you. If you want better media and a stronger democracy to be part of your legacy, making a planned gift to Free Press is a great way to do it. Why Join the Free Press Legacy Society? The Free Press Legacy Society allows you to take care of your loved ones and ensure that your values live on. Through our Legacy Society, you can make tax-wise gifts that provide Free Press with the resources we need to chart future programs and reach our goal of building a more diverse, democratic and accountable media system. How Do I Make a Planned Gift to Free Press? It’s easy. Plus, you don’t have to be wealthy to do it. People of every age and income level can make a planned gift — and every dollar makes a real difference. Join the Free Press Legacy Society by including Free Press, our 501(c)3 organization, in your estate plans. This can be as simple as including Free Press in your will; listing Free Press as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, retirement plan or bank account; or donating a publicly traded security. And if you’ve already included Free Press in your estate plans, we’d love to know about it. For more information and specific instructions on how to make a planned gift to Free Press, please visit www.freepress.net/donate/planned_giving or contact: Yesenia Perez Development Coordinator 40 Main St., Ste. 301, Florence, MA 01062 413.585.1533 ext. 502 firstname.lastname@example.org
Protest at Google headquarters. Photo by Steve Rhodes.
“Net Neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time.”
– Sen. Al Franken
40 main st., suite 301 florence, ma 01062
Latinos Organize for Internet Freedom A
powerful new voice for Net Neutrality has arrived on the scene with the launch of Latinos for Internet Freedom. Comprised of more than 50 national, regional and local organizations, Latinos for Internet Freedom is working to ensure that the Internet continues to provide Latinos with good jobs, health care, education, small business innovation, connection to community — and powerful organizing tools. Using the Internet to educate people and promote their cause online, Latino groups were able to stop SB 1070, Arizona’s dangerous and discriminatory racial profiling law, organize 6 million people to march for immigrant rights in 2006, and force CNN to fire anchor Lou Dobbs for airing anti-immigrant views on his show every night. But a powerful industry with deep pockets is using lies and scare tactics to convince civil rights groups that Net Neutrality will widen the digital divide. Latinos for Internet Freedom, working closely with Free Press and other SavetheInternet.com coalition members, is working to expose this and other bogus industry claims.
Joseph Torres of Free Press (left) joins with other members of Latinos for Internet Freedom at the Facing Race conference in Chicago. Photo by amalia deloney.
Meeting with members of Congress, the FCC and the White House, and reaching out to other organizations, Latinos for Internet
Freedom is fighting to make sure that the Internet continues to serve as the “great equalizer” of our times. To learn more, visit latinonetlibre.com
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.