Opportunities for Media Change Projects

The Media Stewards Project is announcing a new initiative and we need your ideas.

We are launching Action for Media Change, a new effort to strengthen public demand for a better national media system. Our goals are to work in alliance and coordination with existing media reform organizations to energize citizens to insist on a media system they deserve; to offer information, ideas, and debate; and to see a strong media change plank added to the emerging progressive platform.

Our new collaborative initiative seeks to highlight and support visionary public actions that illuminate the way forward. We are looking for your ideas for low-cost innovative citizen ACTIONS that will call out prevailing assumptions and practices; attract grassroots participants; educate people about our contemporary media landscape and how it got this way; and inspire ideas and hope for change. We seek creative, non-violent, legal actions to videotape and distribute, to complement other Action for Media Change videos we are planning.

Organizations and individuals may apply for project support. To submit your proposal, please send a crisp project description (1 page), info about yourself or your organization (1 page), and a discussion of the desired impact, with top-line budget and schedule (1 page). We are working on a rolling deadline and will consider projects 4 times a year. Email submissions to john@mediastewards.org.

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Public Schools. Public Libraries. Public Transportation. Public Health.

And Public Media. We need more public in public broadcasting.

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We believe that our current media landscape, with small but bright exceptions, is a big part of the problems we face. Public media is weak; corporate media is worse than weak. And citizens agree: last year’s Gallup poll found that public faith in TV news, newspapers, and internet news is ranked just slightly higher than Congress, the current lowest of the low. We think lousy media are implicated in our entrenched economic and racial inequalities, pay-for-play politics, and violent culture, yet we don’t even have a progressive vision for media change.

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Our health care, education, employment, immigration, and national infrastructure all need major reform or re-creation. Our media system is just as vitally important, and as urgently in need of re-creation, but we don’t hear that being addressed.

What changes do we need to make to create a citizen’s media system for the 21st Century? Can we imagine a system of mixed public, corporate, and non-profit entities that serves the public interest, delivering the news, information, and cultural reflection that citizens need and desire? Can we nurture a US media system that is:

– free, accessible to all, and well funded
– independent of Congress and other political pressure
– protected from undue commercial pressure for profits and ratings
– not controlled by billionaires
– able to create good programming on a sustainable basis
– serves the 99%, including working people and minority communities

 

WATERSHED MOMENT FOR DEBATING MEDIA POLICY : US v UK

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Rising political awareness of the grotesque and growing gap in wealth and income inequality is fast becoming the biggest issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, and signals a watershed moment for assessing media policy in the Unites States. Among many indications:
* Candidate Bernie Sanders regularly criticizes the main stream media for ignoring such major issues as the Trans Pacific Partnership, dark money in political campaigns, seniors barely surviving on Social Security, record levels of child poverty, and the shameful realities of gross income inequality.
* Admitting he said things that were not true, Brian Williams will start reporting for MSNBC, though for less than the $200,000 a week he received as anchor of NBC Nightly News, saying: “My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”
* Political analyst Elizabeth Drew writes repeatedly about the pernicious effect on our democratic process of ever larger campaign contributions by millionaires and billionaires, most of which are spent on false and misleading political TV ads.
* The Federal Election Commission has effectively ceased to function, a subject rarely covered by commercial TV news.
* AT&T is fined $100 million dollars by the Federal Communications Commission for slowing down wireless broadband access without informing their customers, vindicating the recent FCC ruling to maintain network neutrality which the major telecommunications companies strongly argued was unnecessary.
It is worth recalling in this moment that media policy debates  in the US have always favored a “light touch” regulatory approach for commercial broadcasters in terms of serving the public interest, and minimal funding for public media compared with the UK, Canada, Australia, Western Europe and Japan. This is reflected in the information the BBC makes available to the public about its purpose, mission and accountability. We believe a more robust public media system here at home would help us to “clarify the political pickle” of the day, in the words of E. B White.