Features

From the blog

LPFM: Light at the end of the tunnel?

These days, it may be difficult to imagine the US Senate working on anything other than health care. But now that lawmakers appear to be nearly done with that mammoth issue, other business awaits. Grassroots media watchers across the country are hopeful that, with the leadership of Senator Maria Cantwell, a long-awaited bill expanding Low-Power FM community radio could soon become law.

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FCC to hold open Internet hearing in Seattle, April 28

Reclaim the Media

The Federal Communications Commission has announced a public hearing in Seattle to discuss open internet issues. The workshop, entitled "Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet," is currently scheduled to take place at 9:30am April 28 at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle. According to the FCC, the hearing is intended to examine "how the Internet’s openness can best be preserved, including by examining historical and ongoing efforts to protect Internet openness in the United States and other countries, and by discussing the key technological, economic, and legal considerations relevant to the need for and substance of the Commission’s proposed open Internet policies."

Mark your calendars for April 28. Stay tuned to Reclaim the Media for further information, and get involved with local organizing to protect net neutrality, preserve civil rights online, and promote universal access to affordable broadband!

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From the blog

CPB to fund a new Local Journalism Center in the Northwest

Our good friend Gavin Dahl passes along this news from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

Regional Collaborations to Counter Decline of Local Journalism

The CPB today announced funding for a major journalism initiative that will increase original local reporting capacity in seven regions around the country, and a planning project to develop an open information architecture to harness the collective power of the public media network...

In addition to [already-planned LJCs in the southwest, the plains, the upper midwest, upstate New York and central Florida], CPB will fund LJCs in the south and in the Northwest. CPB is currently accepting proposals from stations in these regions. These initial investments will expand local news capacity in these regions by an anticipated 50 new professional positions.

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Protecting Internet freedom will close the digital divide. Period. End of story.

Garlin Gilchrist II, Save the Internet

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski took questions via YouTube about the recently-released National Broadband Plan (NBP). One question posed to the chairman was about whether the plan would close the digital divide and be beneficial to low-income communities and people of color anxious to get online.

Chairman Genachowski’s response (video) was absolutely right that this plan, along with the FCC's other efforts to promote universal broadband Internet access and protect Internet freedom, will benefit everyone, especially those excluded from today's market.

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Community groups applaud broadband plan, but stress that there's a ways to go for closing the digital divide

Media Action Grassroots Network

Across the country, more than 100 organizations of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) applaud the Federal Communications Commission for the release of a national Broadband Plan they say takes first steps in closing a digital divide that has widened the economic and education gap between those who have and those who don’t. "The goal of extending universal access to broadband is an excellent future forward goal," said Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center. "But any policy intended to drive broadband adoption in communities of color and migrant communities must produce a clear roadmap to ensure that the speed and access goals recommended are a floor, not a ceiling--and that people don’t become digital haves and have nots based on their zip code or their race."

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From the blog

FCC releases National Broadband Strategy

On March 16, the Federal Communications Commission released its national broadband strategy, a year in the making. The document is as inspiring as it is broad-reaching--envisioning a dramatic nationwide expansion of truly high-speed (gigabit) Internet access, the world's best wireless broadband systems, and completing next-generation networks supporting health care, public safety and community institutions as well as business and government.

The FCC's plan is being praised widely (read more for an initial response from the Media & Democracy Coalition, of which Reclaim the Media is a member). But their job isn't done yet. The FCC will continue to gather public input about the strategy; key policy battles such as net neutrality remain unresolved; and many urban and rural communities are still working at the local level to expand affordable access.

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$84M federal grant to improve rural Internet access in Washington state

Kyung Song, Seattle Times

A third of all American households lack high-speed broadband Internet access, and nearly 5 percent rely on interminable dial-up modems to surf the Web.

An $84 million federal grant to Washington state is aiming to help bridge that digital divide. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was in Seattle on Monday to announce the grant to expand broadband access to rural and other underserved areas in Washington. Locke was accompanied by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island.

The grant is among $800 million awarded to 24 states so far from $7.2 billion in stimulus money to hook up homes, libraries, health clinics and others to high-speed Internet networks. The grant was given to a consortium led by Tacoma-based Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet), a nonprofit wholesale telecommunications company. Individual awards range from $9.8 million to Port of Whitman to $298,000 to Black Rock Cable to extend fiber-optics Internet access to parts of Bellingham.

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From the blog

Let's Get Connected! Digital Justice forum on March 3

Hidmo Community Empowerment Project, Reclaim the Media and NW MAG-Net present Let's Get Connected: Internet and Social Justice in Central and South Seattle, a community forum on winning better, faster, and more affordable Internet access in the historically underserved neighborhoods of the Central District and Beacon Hill. The event, Let's Get Connected, takes place Weds. March 3, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Garfield Community Center on 2323 E. Cherry Street, Seattle.

Participants in the March 3 "Let's Get Connected" event will be invited to share their own experiences with local Internet access, while community media producers document their stories on audio and video. Featured guest speakers will discuss the history of telecommunications access in central and South Seattle, present-day challenges for fair, affordable access, and ways the City can respond to public outcry for digital justice.

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From the blog

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Leah on Internet access in Seattle

I am a student at Seattle Central Community College, and working my way toward a masters in teaching. My enrollement, class registration, applications for graduate programs, financial aid and classwork. I need reliable internet access. I feel very lucky to have internet access at home. Without this, I'm not sure I would have been able to juggle work, school, and applications. Having access at home meant I could register for classes after work hours, take an online class and research graduate programs into the wee hours of the night.

I even applied for unemployment benefits online when I lost my job! had I not had this kind of access, I cerntainly would have been at a serious disadvantage financially and academically. Everyone deserves this kind of access!

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From the blog

Contributing and Engaging Online

Over the past month, the Red Cross has managed to raise over $35 million dollars for the Haitian earthquake relief through $10 text message donations. As the social media world's fervent excitement over this simple way to give has died down to a hum, it might be a good time to look at what this kind of fundraising means for the small-time philanthropist and digital activist.

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