For its new report assessing the national and local media landscape and offering policy recommendations on how to preserve the public’s access to news and information, the Federal Communications Commission appointed award-winning journalist and CCLP Senior Fellow Cinny Kennard to the working group that led research, conducted interviews and drafted the document. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski publicly thanked Kennard in his remarks at the FCC meeting in Washington D.C. on June 9.
Kennard (pictured below) assembled a research team that included CCLP junior fellows Rebecca Shapiro and Monica Alba, along with research associates Cater Lee and Sarah Erickson. They investigated the evolution of television news by looking at trends and changes in the work force, the adjustment to the forces of advancing technology, and business viability of the news. The Kennard team also assisted in research, interviews and writing portions of the report on radio news, public broadcasting and local TV news.
“The best of the local TV stations prove day in and day out that local TV news can be great–not only performing the great functions of journalism, but doing so in a way that is accessible to a broad cross-section of the community,” the report claims. “Unfortunately, the evidence is strong that many local TV stations have not stepped up to meet the challenges of the moment and in too many cases may even have moved backward … it appears that many local TV news operations have not seized the opportunity presented them by the changing media landscape. So far, they have not filled the gaps left by newspapers.”
The report, Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age, examined both commercial and nonprofit media delivered across all formats: Newspapers, Radio, Television, Internet and Mobile from a variety of sources, including commercial cable, educational institutions, government, religious broadcasters, among others. The report also draws on additional CCLP research by director Geoffrey Cowan and senior fellow David Westphal, with several citations to their 2010 report, Public Policy and Funding the News.
“The report’s findings and recommendations contain a strong and hopeful throughline: there has never been a more exciting time than this broadband age to achieve our Founding Fathers’ vision of a free democracy comprised of informed and empowered citizens,” says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “As the report identifies and celebrates the potential of new communications technologies, it also highlights important gaps that threaten to limit that potential and harm communities.”
The report concludes with three recommendations.
1) Accelerate the move from paper to online disclosure of FCC required information provided by licensees about their programming and operations.
2) Remove barriers to innovation and online entrepreneurship by pushing for universal broadband deployment and adoption.
3) Target existing federal spending at local media. This recommendation echoes findings from the Cowan-Westphal report that documented the significant public support of media, including paid government advertising.
UPDATE: On June 13, 2011, the University of Southern California hosted a forum with representatives from the FCC at their offices in Washington, D.C. Senior Fellow, Adam Clayton Powell, posted a summary of the events.