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Publicly Owned and Operated Media

Friday, November 13, 2009


3:10 PM

Ellen Goodman (Rutgers University Law School)


"Public Media From Broadcast to Broadband"
1967 Public Broadcasting Act
Access: "foster delivery of public telecommunications services;"
Outreach: "that constitute a source of alternative services for all, and that serve as valuable local community resources through outreach;"
Service: "that are responsive to local and general interests, expressing diversity and excellence, involving creative risks, and addressing the needs of unserved
and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities."
What should public media become given:
Technological convergence
information abundance
new publics
participatory capabilities
Case for public media
Market failures: unmet consumer desires
Non-market objectives: noncommercial, democracy-promoting functions (e.g., journalism, diversity, discourse, community)
$10 billion plus investment
Mission driven functions
Create, Connect, Curate
Can public media "save" journalism?
Digital networks make the aspirations of 1967 possible
Structures of 1967 make that possibility small
Federal Support mostly focused on broadcast infrastructure
Structural Reform
Redefine entities that are entitled to public media funding
Insist on new forms of networking
Restructure appropriation to a trust fund or other sustained funding source

Josh Silver (Free Press)


Quest for inexpensive content has turned commercial landscape into cheap
E.g., TVs and reality programming
Public sector as necessary evil because other revenue sources won't be able to save journalists fast enough
Not a desired source, but an essential one
Content question can only be solved at the same time as national infrastructure problems and policy
"We" need a movement across the country that recognizes importance of journalism

Laura Walker (General Manager, WNYC, New York)


Headline news is increasingly a commodity
Huge change going on, and those who can be creative can make a huge impact
Public media should focus more on local coverage, deep coverage (which is expensive)
Benefits to be reaped with crowdsourcing
Non-profit industry needs to come up with sustainable models too
Protect themselves against government, grant/foundation funding
Partnerships will be key
Need strong leadership boards
Most important money they receive is for risk capitol for creating new content
Really need more money from the federal government so that they can expand content

Lawrence Grossman (Digital Promise Project)


Creative destruction of the old major media industry
Internet journalists are largest group in news industry in jail
Look forwards, not backwards
Explosion of news with attitude
Far too little in-depth analysis and reporting
Entrepreneurial journalism should be allowed to proceed without government using taxes to prop up old media
Can and should look to public broadcast entities to produce comprehensive documentaries on issues of modern importance
Should not despair, but instead do everything possible to meet needs of American populace

Q&A
Goodman: Case needs to be made for how public broadcasting can improve lives before there can be any chance of increase in fu nding
E.g., raising community awareness of census issues among minority communities to avoid democratic deficit
Silver: Don't be blindly optimistic, changes to public broadcasting will take long time; think of our children's generation

Audience member (Yale Law Prof): Smart, hard-working 20 year olds are choosing not to go into journalism unless there are near term improvements. Won't this
lead to a "missing generation" in quality journalism?
Grossman: J-schools still overflowing with outstanding applicants

YLS Dean: public broadcasting should not underestimate its ability to effect change
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Yale ISP blog coverage: http://lamponline.org/?p=212

Yale Law Journalism Conference Page 1