An open letter to President-elect Obama

On Dec. 18, a long list of media activist groups, consumer advocates, labor unions and individuals sent the below letter to the Obama administration, outlining some of our shared expectations for media and communications policies that benefit the public, rather than business elites.

President-elect Obama:

We congratulate you for putting crucial media and technology issues in the public spotlight. Not only did your campaign embrace new technology and innovative media, you have embraced these values in your policy agenda. Your commitments and detailed plan represent a fundamental shift toward communications policy in the public interest. We happily offer our support and service in pursuit of our common goals.

We look forward to working with the leaders you will appoint to the White House, such as the Chief Technology Officer, the positions on the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and in the Commerce, Education, Justice and Agriculture Departments. We urge you to select strong proponents of the public interest who will embrace and enact the policy proposals you made on the campaign trail to shape the future of the media, the Internet, the economy -- and our democracy. Together, we have a unique opportunity to break with the past, lift the stranglehold industry lobbyists have had on communications policy, and put the public's priorities first. In your own words, you pledged:

  • Protect an Open Internet: To "take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality"(1) and "protect the Internet's traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy."(2)
  • Promote Universal, Affordable Broadband: To see that "in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online"(3) by bringing "true broadband to every community in America."(4)
  • Diversify Media Ownership: To create "the diverse media environment that federal law requires and the country deserves.”(5)
  • Renew Public Media: To foster “the next generation of public media,” and “support the transition of existing public broadcasting entities and help renew their founding vision in the digital world.”(6)
  • Spur Economic Growth: To "strengthen America's competitiveness in the world"(7) and leverage technology "to grow the economy, create jobs, and solve our country's most pressing problems."(8)
  • Ensure Open Government: To reverse "policies that favor the few against the public interest," close "the revolving door between government and industry," and achieve "a new level of transparency, accountability and participation for America's citizens."(9)

The more than one hundred people who signed onto this letter -- and the millions more we represent in our organizations, workplaces and communities – join your call to create a more vibrant and diverse media system and to deliver the benefits of the open Internet and new technology to all Americans.

Sincerely,

Organizations:

ACLU
Action Coalition for Media Education
Alliance for Community Media
American Federation of Musicians
American Library Association
Benton Foundation
Brave New Foundation
BuildTheEcho.net
Campus Progress
CeaseSPIN.org
Center for American Progress
Center for Creative Voices in Media
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Center for New Words
Change.org
Change Congress
Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP)
Chicago Media Action
ColorofChange.org
Common Cause
Consumer Federation of America
Consumers Union
CTC VISTA Project
Democracy for America
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Entertainment Consumers Association
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Feminist Majority
Free Press
Future of Music Coalition
Green for All
GreenChange.org
Harry Potter Alliance
Hip Hop Caucus
Hip Hop Congress
IL PIRG
In These Times
League of Young Voters
Manhattan Neighborhood Network
Maui Community Television
Media Access Project
Media Alliance
Media Equity Collaborative
Media Matters for America
Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF)
Mid-Atlantic Community Papers Association
Minnesota Immigrant Network
Mother Jones
MoveOn.org
National Association of Black Journalists
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Native Public Media
Netroots Nation
New America Foundation
New Moon Girl Media
One/Northwest
OpenCongress.org
Participatory Culture Foundation
Participatory Politics Foundation
Personal Democracy Forum
Public Knowledge
R.E.A.C.Hip Hop Coalition for Media Justice
Reclaim The Media
RH Reality Check
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Sunlight Foundation
Tech President
United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.
UNITY: Journalists of Color
U.S. PIRG
WhiteHouse2.org
Women In Media & News (WIMN)
Women's Information Network (WIN)
Women’s Media Center
Writer’s Guild of America, East
The Young Turks
YouthNOISE

Individuals:

Josh Silver, Free Press
John Aravosis, Americablog
Joe Sudbay, Americablog
Craig Klein, Bonerama
Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films
Jeff Chang, CantStopWontStop.com
Sean Gibbons, Center for American Progress
John Halpin, Center for American Progress
Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Tim Wu, Columbia University
David Colarusso, CommunityCOUNTS.com
Craig Newmark, Craigslist
Markos Moulitsas, DailyKos
David Sirota, Davidsirota.com
Deanna Zandt, Deannazandt.com
Shireen Mitchell, Digital Sisters/Sistas Inc.
Duncan “Atrios” Black, Eschaton
Jane Hamsher, FireDogLake
Christy Hardin Smith, FireDogLake
Jonny 5, Flobots
Van Jones, Green For All
Davey D, Hard Knock Radio
Heather “Digby” Parton, Hullabaloo
Baratunde Thurston, Jack and Jill Politics
Mieka Pauley, Mieka.com
Jay Harris, Mother Jones
Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org
Kathy Spillar, Ms. Magazine and Feminist Majority
Jim James, My Morning Jacket
Jerome Armstrong, MyDD
Josh Orton, MyDD
Jonathan Singer, MyDD
Kim Gandy, National Organization for Women
Sascha Meinrath, New America Foundation
Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate
Zack Exley, New Organizing Institute
Judith Freeman, New Organizing Institute
Chris Bowers, OpenLeft.com
Matt Stoller, OpenLeft.com
Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam
Mike Mills, R.E.M,
Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com
Josh Nelson, TheSeminal.com
Barbara van Schewick, Stanford University
Lawrence Lessig, Stanford University
Garlin Gilchrist II, The SuperSpade
Robert W. McChesney, University of Illinois
Waterflow, The Wageble Band
Tracy Russo, Women in Politics and Media
Carol Jenkins, Women’s Media Center
Michael Winship, Writer’s Guild of America, East
Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks

Notes:

1 Obama for America, “Obama Unveils Innovation Agenda at Google,” Nov. 14, 2007, available at http://www.barackobama.com/2007/11/14/obama_unveils_innovation_agend.php (accessed Dec. 11, 2008).
2 Obama for America, “Barack Obama: Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation,” November 2007, available at http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/technology/Fact_Sheet_Innovation_and_Technology.pdf (accessed Dec. 11, 2008). See also. MTV/MySpace Forum, “Maintaining Net Neutrality,” Oct. 29, 2007, beginning at 2 min. and 50 sec., video available at http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/185103/16-of-21-maintaining-netneutrality.jhtml (accessed Dec 12, 2008) where Senator Obama stated he would appoint only FCC commissioners who support Net Neutrality.
3 President-Elect Obama, “Weekly Address,” Dec. 6, 2008, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGpIT2bVZDw (accessed Dec. 11, 2008).
4 Obama for America, “Barack Obama: Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation,” November 2007, available at http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/
issues/technology/Fact_Sheet_Innovation_and_Technology.pdf (accessed Dec. 11, 2008).
5 Id.
6 Obama for America, “Barack Obama: Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation,” available at
http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/technology/Fact_Sheet_Innovation_and_Technology.pdf (accessed Dec. 12, 2008).
7 President-Elect Obama, “Weekly Address,” Dec. 6, 2008, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGpIT2bVZDw (accessed Dec. 11, 2008).
8 Policy Working Groups, Technology, Innovation & Government Reform, available at http://change.gov/learn/policy_working_groups (accessed Dec. 11, 2008).
9 Obama for America, “Barack Obama: Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation,” November 2007, available at http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/technology/Fact_Sheet_Innovation_and_Technology.pdf (accessed Dec. 11, 2008).

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey