Welcome to the Free Press blog! We post several times a week on everything from Internet access to free speech to media mergers, so check back often to see what we’re up to.

  • Failed once by consolidation, flooded Minot turns to local TV

    June 27, 2011

    Minot, N.D., became a symbol of the dangers of media consolidation in 2002, when a nearby train derailment released toxic anhydrous ammonia into the air. Minot’s six Clear Channel-owned stations continued to air automated programming while a deadly gas cloud spread across town, killing one person and injuring a thousand.

    Failed once by absentee-owned corporate media,  Minot is today facing another emergency--severe flooding.  But this time, the community is better informed, thanks largely to news coverage by a small, locally owned TV station, KXMC.

  • Happy Anniversary. Love, Verizon.

    June 23, 2011

    Almost a year to the day after Verizon announced it would cease offering unlimited mobile data plans, we're being handed a stinker of an anniversary gift in the form of leaked details about Verizon's upcoming data caps.

  • Change the Channels

    June 22, 2011

    Grab your remotes, and get ready to change the channels; there’s a new struggle against increased media consolidation, and chances are it’s coming to your town. In fact, it’s quite possible that TV stations in your own backyard have already consolidated, and you may not even know it’s happened. That’s because media companies have circumvented the Federal Communications Commission’s ownership rules in over 80 markets, quietly shuttering newsrooms at the expense of independent, local journalism.

  • Apple's Pre-emptive Strike Against Free Speech

    June 22, 2011

    So you think you control your smartphone? Think again.

    Late last week reports uncovered a plan by Apple, manufacturer of the iPhone, to patent technology that can detect when people are using their phone cameras and shut them down.

  • Community Internet vs. AT&T in Wisconsin

    June 21, 2011

    WiscNet is an Internet services co-op that provides Internet access to the vast majority of schools and libraries in Wisconsin, as well as a number of local governments. Because it’s a co-op, it can deliver lower-cost broadband to public entities than they could negotiate on their own.

  • Measuring the Gap in News and Information

    June 21, 2011

    Last year, in his remarks at the Federal Communications Commission workshop on the future of noncommercial media, Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made a provocative statement:  

    There is no longer enough private capital — in the form of advertising, subscriptions, philanthropy and other sources — to support the depth and breadth of quality local, national and international news reporting our communities need to participate in a 21st-century democracy.

    At the time, the statement was a best guess based on the statistics and trends that were available. The FCC has now released their report on the Information Needs of Communities and in it they spend significant time probing the economics of what we have lost from our media and journalism and how we could begin to fill that gap. The evidence and economic analysis in the FCC report seems to confirm that we are facing a serious gap in financial support for exactly the kind of news we need.  

  • Lessons Learned from the Fight for Low Power FM Radio

    June 21, 2011
    It was a dream that never died: thousands of groups across the United States fighting for their own community radio stations. Now, after 10 years of struggle, the movement to expand community radio can celebrate a big victory with the bipartisan passage of the Local Community Radio Act. And hundreds if not thousands of communities across America can get ready to own their own pieces of the FM dial: their own local radio stations.
  • Future of Media Report: A Feminist Challenge

    June 20, 2011

    This is a guest post from Carolyn Byerly, cross posted from WIMN's Voices, the blog of Women In News and Media. 

    Finding women and people of color in the long-awaited Federal Communications Commission report The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age is an exercise in near futility. The 478-page report integrates details on the status of various media platforms and assesses mediated informational needs by communities within the United States in the years to come, ending with a short chapter on recommendations.

    Yet those of us know through experience that when women and people of color are omitted or barely mentioned in such a comprehensive undertaking, their interests are most certainly not going to be part of any structural changes. If Congress and the FCC follow this report, the future of media promises to be as white and male as the present.

  • Summary and Analysis of the FCC Future of Media Report: Bold Analysis, Weak Solutions

    June 17, 2011

    [Download a PDF version of this summary and analysis here.]

    The Federal Communications Commission has finally released its much anticipated report on the “Information Needs of Communities” (aka the “Future of Media Report”). The 400-page report is a wide-ranging look at the media landscape with an eye toward two questions: whether people and communities are getting the news and information they need, and whether current media policy is furthering local public interest goals.

  • A Recovering Journalist Reads The FCC Future of Media Report

    June 16, 2011

    I am a recovering journalist. 

    I went to school for it, got a master’s degree in it, won awards for it and taught it at two universities. So you could say I’ve spent a lot of time in the business of informing my fellow citizens about the goings-on in their world.

    But I don’t do it anymore. Not because I don’t believe that informing the public is an important service—it absolutely is.  I left the profession because I was no longer convinced that we were providing any such thing.


People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good