• After Journalist Arrests, U.S. Plummets in Global Press Freedom Rankings

    January 25, 2012

    In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for a “renewal of American values.” However, over the course of his wide-ranging speech, he made no mention of one core value: the fundamental role of the free press in America.

    This absence was highlighted this morning when Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012 global Press Freedom Index. After months of journalist arrests and press suppression at Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests, the United States has plummeted in the rankings.

  • Can't Buy Me Laws: Congress Must Give Back Chris Dodd's Dirty Money

    January 24, 2012

    People inside the D.C. bubble often tell stories about lavish fundraisers and the use of campaign cash to shore up votes in Congress. Conspiracy theories about who uses their PAC money, or direct contributions, to bend the ear of powerful committee chairmen and party leaders circulate throughout the capital faster than the Metro.

    Still, the stories are usually hard to substantiate, and publicly members of Congress and their staffs are quick to deny that money has any influence at all. Rarely is the systemic corporate capture of Washington, D.C., on display in such a transparent and ugly way as it was last week.

  • The Public's Right to Know

    January 24, 2012

    In the media reform world, we often say we’re fighting for “better” media. Of course, “better” is the sort of word that begs comparison: better than what? If we’re to demand more of our local broadcasters, we need to know what’s wrong with the status quo.

    Broadcasters use the public airwaves free of charge, and in return are supposed to provide programming that fulfills the news and information needs of communities. The Federal Communications Commission requires broadcasters to keep public files detailing exactly how they serve local needs. But these records are generally kept in file cabinets at local TV stations and are not easily accessible. So the pressure is on for broadcasters to put these files online in a publicly searchable database.

  • Media Literacy Students Create Anti-SOPA Video

    January 24, 2012

    Under the leadership of our friends at New Mexico’s Media Literacy Project, ninth graders Jack Folkner, Martin Jencka and Jay Jewell-Roth created a video about the recently shelved Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

  • Web Blacks Out, Senators Defect

    January 19, 2012

    Yesterday was unbelievable. In an unprecedented show of strength, millions of Internet users rose up against the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP Act, with Wikipedia, reddit, Boing Boing, and thousands of other sites going black to join in the protest (even Google hid its logo behind a black bar for the day). Millions sent letters to Congress, and tens of thousands picked up the phone to urge their senators to vote “no” on PIPA, which is scheduled for a Jan. 24 vote.

  • The FCC's Ownership Review Marks a Critical Chance to Turn the Tide

    January 19, 2012

    Our local media outlets are being stripped for parts. Aided by decades of bad policymaking, the large companies that control most of the broadcast outlets across the country are laying off local DJs, shuttering local newsrooms and inching ever closer toward creating monopolies in local marketplaces. The more media outlets consolidate, the more our diverse local media is being replaced by faceless, automated infotainment. If it’s true that the media influences and shapes our culture, then we’re headed down a path to uniformity, where cheap centralized content replaces diverse local voices and quality programming.

  • Why We Went Black

    January 19, 2012

    Wikipedia and Google blacked out? Redditers in an uproar? Thousands of geeks abandoning their cubicles to take to the streets?

    What's happening here?

  • Momentum Builds Against SOPA and PIPA

    January 17, 2012

    Tomorrow you might be wondering who turned out the lights. Don’t worry — it will simply be one of the biggest days in the history of the open Internet.

    Thousands of websites — including Wikipedia, reddit, BoingBoing, and — will go dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), bills in the House and Senate that could open the door to widespread censorship online.

  • Does Corporate Cash Explain the Networks' Silence on SOPA?

    January 12, 2012

    Earlier this week we pointed to a Media Matters for America study showing that most of the major networks — ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC — have failed to cover opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

    Online piracy is definitely a problem. But these bills would do little to solve it. They’re the latest effort in Hollywood’s Sisyphean quest to close the open Internet — and slow down the kinds of online innovation that threaten the old-school media masters.

  • Charitable Donations Given Via Cellphones on the Rise

    January 12, 2012

    The first-ever study on mobile donors found that charitable donations made via cellphones have jumped in recent years. The report from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Pew Research Center analyzed the “Text to Haiti” campaign that followed the devastating 2010 earthquake.

    The study shows that most text donors contributed on impulse as news about the campaign spread via friend networks. “Three quarters of these donors contributed using their phones on the same day they heard about the campaign,” the study notes, “and a similar number say they typically make text message donations without conducting much in-depth research beforehand.”


People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good