Features

From the blog

NW community radio leaders speak up for Low-Power FM

by Lupito Flores, KYRS Spokane

In April, Gavin Dahl (Boise Community Radio), Erubiel Valladares-Carranza (KPCN Woodburn) and I traveled to Washington DC, representing the Northwest Community Radio Network as part of Prometheus Radio Project's Low Power FM lobby days. Along with community radio activists from across the country, we worked to help build support for the Local Community Radio Act, a bill in Congress right now which will expand Low Power FM stations like KYRS, and save those that are threatened by encroaching commercial stations. The Senate bill was introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell and John McCain, and the House version is co-sponsored by Rep. McMorris-Rogers (WA).

In Washington, we met with Senator Cantwell and her legislative assistant Michael Daum--both champions of community radio. I also met with Jason Park, Legislative Assistant to Senator Murray, who has yet to sign on to the bill. He didn't offer any reasons why the Senator hasn't signed on. We provided him with lots of background information and reminded him that the Congressionally-mandated MITRE study proved that LPFMs do not interfere with full power stations.

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From the blog

State Legislature passes broadband bill

Today the Washington State Legislature approved broadband legislation which will help bring new high-speed internet access to residents, businesses, educational institutions, public health and safety services, local governments and community organizations in underserved parts of Washington State. The bill, HB1701 (pdf) was originally sponsored by Reps. Zack Hudgins and Bob Hasegawa, and will depend on federal stimulus funding for much of its impact. Background here and a summary of the bill below.

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From the blog

DTV day of action: it’s time for a socially responsible DTV transition

On Friday April 17th, local community organizations gathered at Seattle Housing Authority's Center Park facility calling for a Socially Responsible DTV Transition; helping community members apply for DTV converter box coupons, answering questions about the upcoming transition, and calling upon local retailers to provide a “no-cost box” option for local consumers. City Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Bruce Harrell provided an update on their January letter to local retailers, asking for a no-cost box. To date, few local retailers have answered the community's call for affordable box options.

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From the blog

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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An open letter to journalists

Peggy Holman, Journalism That Matters

It’s time for a new compact between Journalists and the Public. We need you. Your work is vital to the well-being of us all. I can’t imagine a functional democracy without the passionate commitment journalists make to digging deeply into what matters. It is a sacred trust and I thank you for doing it on our behalf.

If I – and others –believe that, why do so many of us seem hostile to the press? Because we feel betrayed. Where were you when we needed you? Where were your warnings about the state of the economy? About the lies of weapons of mass destruction? About the many stories closer to home that affect our lives and well-being? Did you miss the clues yourself? Did you know and not help us hear your messages? How could you let us down?

If you don’t feel trusted, please understand that it is in part the corporation behind you that many of us don’t trust. When my primary identity shifted from citizen to consumer something died. You are not your corporation. I don’t need them. I need you.

If you’re frustrated or angry about the state of the media, you are not alone. We are all frustrated. It’s time to take that energy and refocus it together.

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Double standard: missing black women still get less media than whites

Jan Ransom, Black Politics on the Web

Average looking men, women and children from a variety of economic, social and ethnic backgrounds made up the more than 105,000 active missing persons in America last year, according to the National Crime Information Center. However, national media operations often fail to present what is in fact a very diverse missing persons population – African-Americans. And some observers believe race is the factor.

“There is a culture in America that tends to sympathize with the blond White woman instead of the braided black woman,” said Ernie Suggs, vice president of print for the National Association of Black Journalists. “There has always been a certain level of interest, a certain fascination with White missing persons … Americans identify with who they want to be.”

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From the blog

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 GenerationOfConsolidation.org, 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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Community media supporters stand up for public access

Alliance for Community Media

Alliance for Community Media members and supporters from 36 states responded in force to the FCC's request for comments regarding the Petitions for Declaratory Ruling filed in January, 2009. Over 700 responses came from a wide variety of sources, including local community organizations, media reform organizations, non-profit associations, city governments, and individuals.

"The strength, variety and volume of the comments show that communities across this nation value their local public, government and education channels and community media centers, and that the quality and availability of these services matter," stated ACM board chair Matt Schuster.

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From the blog

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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Plunging economy is threatening ethnic press

Associated Press

The sinking economy is threatening the ethnic publications that immigrant communities rely upon to stay informed and navigate American life. Although the ethnic press once seemed immune to the forces hurting mainstream newspapers across the country, a growing number of publications that serve immigrant and minority communities are laying off staff, closing print editions or shutting down altogether.

Unlike mainstream newspapers, which have seen circulation decline over the decades, most ethnic publications have been retaining or expanding their print readership base, thanks to the growth of immigrant populations with strong newspaper reading habits. But a severe recession has led to a steep drop in advertising from small businesses, including many owned by immigrants, that have come to rely on the ethnic press to reach these communities.

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