Public interest groups advise feds on broadband stimulus spending

Today, Reclaim the Media and twenty-seven other public interest and media democracy organizations submitted comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service, the primary two Federal agency offices charged with distributing $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds.

The comments made recommendations on definitions of "underserved" and "unserved" areas, the role of state and local governments and commmunity organizations in broadband deployment, and other topics.

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State legislation lays groundwork for broadband in Washington's underserved areas

Washington's state legislature is getting closer to passing legislation which could help dramatically expand high-speed broadband Internet in underserved rural and urban areas. While details are still being worked out, the legislation (see 1701 and 5916) would allow the state's Department of Information Technology to help increase broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas across the state, to map existing broadband coverage to homes, businesses, and state agencies, and to create new programs for promoting Internet adoption and digital literacy. The primary anticipated funding source - and the new legislation's raison d'etre -- is $7.2 billion in broadband funds included in the recent federal stimulus package.

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Reel Grrls launches "Generation of Consolidation" website

The award-winning short documentary A Generation of Consolidation, created by Seattle Reel Grrls teen filmmakers Sami Muilenburg and Brooke Noel, explores the impact of media consolidation on news content and its effects on youth&emdash;both as viewers and media makers. The film highlights youth testimony from the 2007 Seattle FCC hearing on Media Ownership, and features the voices of Reclaim the Media, author Anne Elizabeth Moore, UW Professor Lance Bennett, and young people taking stock of their role in a shifting media landscape.

Now Muilenberg has teamed up with designer Jessica Spiegel to create, a website created by youth and for youth, aimed at using the film as a jumping-off point into broader discussions of media justice.

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Sustaining quality journalism: a community conversation

RTM entered the fray of Seattle community conversations about the future of journalism last weekend, with a Green Festival panel entitled Sustaining Quality Journalism in a New Media Ecology. Panelists included former Seattle Times copy editor and past editor of Colors NW Naomi Ishisaka (One America); Common Language Project executive editor Sarah Stuteville; and longtime journalist and community catalyst Stephen Silha (Journalism That Matters). More videos from the panel are posted here.

To echo a point Stephen made, we are entering a relatively uncertain period, which will be – or ought to be – more about finding the right questions than finding quick answers. We began from the position of affirming that quality journalism is absolutely essential for our democracy to function, and is much more crucial than many appear to think. At the same time, however, we reflected that discussions about "saving" journalism are incomplete without deep and sustained criticism of the gaps left by much of today's journalism, as practiced in commercial newsrooms.

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Community organizations join hands for media justice: NW MAG-Net

On Friday March 27, Reclaim the Media and the Youth Media Institute hosted a local conversation on media justice for local grassroots social justice organizers, at Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine in the Central District. Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Oakland-based Center for Media Justice, was our featured guest. She and I led a lively discussion about some of the media problems facing local communities (see below for some notes). The evening also included an appeal for organizations to join an emerging regional-to-national media justice coalition, the Media Action Grassroots Network.

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Media and Technology at the Seattle Green Festival

Progressive media voices will be out in force for this year's Seattle Green Festival, taking place March 28-29 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Featured speakers include Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), Malkia Cyril (Center for Media Justice), Lawrence Lessig and Laura Flanders (Grit TV). Also as part of the Green Festival, Reclaim the Media is hosting a panel on Sustaining Quality (local) journalism in a New Media Ecology, with Naomi Ishisaka (One America), Stephen Silha (Journalism That Matters), and Sarah Stuteville (Common Language Project). Click here for more information about the festival, including a complete schedule.

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Reclaiming the media - a job too big for one organization

We usually get a warm feeling when international media critics, writers, activists or organizers take up the "Reclaim the Media" meme independently from us, whether it appears in the titles of books or articles, as an Indymedia slogan (below) or as graffiti in Rome. So we'd like to say a big hello to the folks at the Linke Medienakademie (Left Media Academy) in Berlin, who are using the phrase as a tagline for their multi-day mediamakers' conference Netzte Knüpfen (creating networks).

The conference takes place March 6-8, and brings together media producers, academics and social media organizers. Topics include nuts-and-bolts grassroots media production training, ad-busting, organizing against anti-semitism and the far right, and Chomsky-style media analysis (including a screening of Mark Achbar's wonderful film Manufacturing Consent). Coincidentally, the speakers list includes our friend Zack Exley, an online activism expert who has written about the Obama campaign and worked on a number of successful online campaigns. Reclaim the Media is the conference's day for youth media makers.

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Expanding community radio - LPFM bill reintroduced in Congress

On Wednesday, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Lee Terry (R-NB) announced the introduction of the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 - Congress' latest attempt to expand Low Power FM community radio across the country. The Congressmen were joined by activist groups who have been leading a nationwide grassroots fight for community radio for years, including the Prometheus Radio Project and the Future of Music Coalition. Other cosponsors of the bill include longtime LPFM champion Jay Inslee (D-WA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

The bill would expand LPFM community radio nationwide, allowing hundreds of community groups, schools, municipalities and religious organizations to apply for new noncommercial radio licenses in cities and towns across the US.

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The future of journalism in Seattle, part 1

The notion that the newspaper industry is in trouble has achieved truism status over the last couple of years. The industry has taken an undeniable hit from the migration of classified ads online, as well as from gradually decreasing circulation figures, as news consumers replace faster and more configurable online news sources over older dead-tree delivery systems.

This is the first of three posts gathering together insights from a cluster of recent and upcoming Seattle events looking into the future of our daily newspapers and the journalism they deliver.

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RTM op-ed on DTV transition

It's in the P-I. Also, check out this brief article on how the early transition option is disproportionately affecting smaller markets and rural areas.

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