• Covert Consolidation: Out of Control and on the Rise

    May 29, 2012

    The Texas city of San Angelo bills itself as “the place to come for good times.”

    Forbes ranked it seventh in its 2012 “Best Cities for Jobs” rankings.

    And CNN called it one of the best places to launch a business.

    Unless, of course, that business is a local TV newscast. 

  • Who Owns What

    April 26, 2012

    Did you know that Viacom owns 160 cable channels that reach more than 600 million people worldwide?

    Or that the Hearst Corporation owns 31 television stations and 20 U.S. magazines?

  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    April 25, 2012

    There’s good news and bad news in the world of public media funding.

    First, the good news.

  • Broken Promises

    March 7, 2012

    Actions speak louder than words.

    We see this when our children promise to share — and then hoard their Halloween candy, refusing their angelic parents even the smallest Snickers. And this dynamic really hits home when leaders deliver principled speeches — and then neglect to follow through on their promises.

    In 2008, President Obama spoke out against media consolidation and for more diverse ownership of radio and television stations. "Rules promoting the public interest and diversity in media ownership," he said, "are too important for the FCC to accept an agenda supported by the Washington special interests."

  • Distortions, Manipulations and Lies: Oh My!

    March 6, 2012

    It might be hard to believe, but sometimes political ads are chock full of distortions, manipulations and boldfaced lies.

    But every once in a while a broadcaster shows some muscle and pulls a dishonest ad.

  • Mike D: Fighting for Your Right to Get Online

    February 15, 2012

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offered no bonbons and forget-me-nots for AT&T this Valentine’s Day. On Tuesday, the SEC told AT&T and other telecoms that they must include a resolution supporting wireless Net Neutrality in annual shareholder ballots. The SEC found no merit in AT&T’s claim that such a resolution would “interfere with its network management practices and seriously impair its ability to provide wireless broadband service to its customers.”

  • Could the Latest News Corp. Arrests Lead to a U.S. Investigation?

    February 14, 2012

    The new year is not off to the rosiest of starts for News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. On Saturday five senior journalists at his London tabloid the Sun were arrested and charged with bribing public officials for information. This spate of arrests is the latest development in Scotland Yard’s ongoing investigation into News Corp.’s ever-expanding corruption scandal, which led to last summer’s closing of the tabloid News of the World, home to phone hacking and other underhanded approaches to sleuthing the news.

  • Public Media: Still on the Chopping Block

    February 1, 2012

    Last November Free Press released On the Chopping Block: State Budget Battles and the Future of Public Media, an inventory of dramatic state-level funding cuts to public broadcasting. Our report, co-authored by Josh Stearns and Mike Soha, documents how state support for public broadcasting has plunged since the economy took a nosedive in 2008. What’s more, the report notes that politics — not financial considerations — have driven much of this budget cutting.

  • 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.”

  • Chronicle of Journalist Arrests Wins Storify Award

    January 4, 2012

    My colleague, Josh Stearns, has been tracking journalist arrests at Occupy protests since the movement launched in September. His documentation of press arrests on social media platform Storify has earned him the site’s nod as “Storify of the Year.”

    Since September, 36 journalists have been arrested in 10 cities. Many more have been harassed, roughed up or otherwise hindered while attempting to do their work. The arrests and suppression have occurred even as journalists have identified themselves to police as members of the press.