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From Competition to Cooperation: Engaging Cable, Satellite, Internet and Mobile Broadband Service Providers in Meeting the Information Needs of Communities

July 13, 2012 in Distribution, Policy, Resources

Filling gaps in accountability journalism, including waning statehouse coverage, was the central focus when the Center for Media Law and Policy, a joint project of the journalism and law schools at UNC, convened a day-long workshop Jan. 20, 2012, to reflect on the Federal Communication Commission’s 2011 report The Information Needs of Communities.

Report author Steven Waldman was among the participants. “Many a government report has evaporated into the ether after publication,” he said, so the series of workshops organized by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation represents an important model for leveraging a study like his create greater impact…

Because the UNC workshop’s task was to consider ways in which cable, satellite, Internet and mobile providers might contribute more to efforts to bolster accountability journalism, discussion cut across a range of topics broached in Waldman’s FCC report. The workshop could be seen as a barometer for gauging which of the report’s raft of recommendations seemed most urgent to local actors…

The UNC workshop revealed a surprising appetite for cross-industry cooperation. Because participants were especially interested in market-based and voluntary initiatives, the FCC’s role was limited in many discussions.” Source: From Competition to Cooperation report (pdf)

The Media Policy Initiative

November 2, 2011 in Community, Experiments, Policy, Resources

The Media Policy Initiative, part of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, formulates policy and regulatory reforms to foster the development of a healthy media that satisfies the needs of democracy in the 21st century. MPI’s fellows and staff research, analyze, and promote policies that are committed to maximizing the public interest potential of innovative media, supported by partnerships with communities, researchers, industry, and public interest groups. By studying the social and economic ramifications of policymaking – particularly on poor, rural, and other underserved constituencies – MPI provides in-depth, objective research, analysis, and findings for policy decisionmakers and the general public.

MPI hired its first batch of fellows in Spring 2010, and its current work centers on the recently published Knight Commission Report Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age.

Building on the report’s findings, in 2010 the MPI staff and fellows focus on policies to invigorate public media, increase independent public interest reporting, and improve citizen access to and engagement with high-quality information. MPI utilizes a broad definition of a community’s information needs, which includes information provided to the public by media, community institutions, and government. By tracking and critiquing policy initiatives at the federal level, as well as innovative media efforts in communities across the country, the Initiative reports on both the successes and failures in this interdisciplinary realm, along with their implications for the Knight Commission’s recommendations.


  • Identify and recruit a cross-section of media thinkers and do-ers able to inform the policymaking processes ongoing at the FTC, FCC, and in Congress.
  • Conduct assessments of local media ecosystems as a means of informing the debates in DC with diverse, outside-the-Beltway perspectives.
  • Build research collaborations among academics, media producers, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders.
  • Study the social and economic impacts of the ongoing disruption in media models.
  • Support business, government and social entrepreneurs pursuing pilot projects and proof-of-concept prototypes with data and analysis.
  • Support the development the Fellows many of whom are new to their role as policy entrepreneurs.” Source: New America Foundation


Knight Report: Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age

October 25, 2011 in Community, Distribution, Policy, Resources

In April 2008, recognizing that technology is changing attitudes toward information in fundamental ways, Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute formed the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The purpose of the Commission was to examine the information needs of American communities in the digital age and to suggest recommendations to strengthen the free flow of information.

This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Knight Commission. Through public outreach, the commission garnered input from over 1,100 people online. In addition, experts and community members shared insights at public forums, where the commission pondered questions such as:

  • What are the information needs of a community in a democracy?
  • How is technology affecting the information needs of democracy in the United States?
  • What public policy directions would help lead us from where we are today to where we ought to be? Report Partner: This report was produced by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

Report Contents

Knight Commission’s articulation of community information needs and the critical steps necessary to meet them requires pursuing three fundamental objectives:

  • Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information to Communities: People need relevant and credible information to be free and self-governing.
  • Enhancing the Capacity of Individuals to Engage with Information: People need tools, skills and understanding to use information effectively.
  • Promoting Public Engagement: To pursue their true interests, people need to be engaged with information and with each other. The commission’s conclusions and recommendations follow each objective. Source: Knight Foundation


Local TV News in the Los Angeles Media Market: Are Stations Serving the Public Interest?

October 21, 2011 in Community, Distribution, Innovation, Resources, Revenue

L.A.’s television stations deliver on average about 22 seconds of local government coverage, according to a new study by the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

The study found that only half of a half-hour news show was devoted to news. Of that, local news received 50 seconds more coverage than non-local news. Sports and weather — not considered to be news in the study — received about half the time of non-local news. Teasers and advertisements account for more than a third of each half-hour news show.

“Reports like this are a summon to action,” FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said. “We better pay more attention to what is happening to traditional journalism and find out how to fix it because this is where most of the news originates.”

The findings are the first in an ongoing study of all L.A. television news broadcasts, which is the country’s second largest media market. Researchers analyzed more than 11,250 news stories broadcast on KABC, KCAL, KCBS, KNBC, KTLA, KTTV, KCOP and Spanish-language station KMEX during 14 randomly selected days in August and September of last year.

Of all news coverage, crime took the largest chunk of time — 2:50. Shows also lead off with crime one out of every three times. About 20 seconds less was taken up by soft news, oddball news, human interest stories, contests, makeovers, world record attempts, fashion, travel, cooking, animals going wild and weddings. Entertainment coverage unrelated to business aspects received another two minutes.” Source: Neon Tommy