Posted January 27th, 2010 by Elizabeth Andrion - Deputy Chief, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis
Posted January 25th, 2010 by Steve Waldman - Senior Advisor to the Chairman
Ellen Goodman, a professor at Rutgers University School of Law and expert on media policy emailed me with this fascinating point about last week's Supreme Court ruling:
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court this week overturned statutory controls on corporate funding of campaign advertising (Citizens United v. FEC). It is a hugely significant decision in that it will allow corporations to expend unlimited funds to promote or defeat candidates for office. Before this decision, the corporations were limited to directly funding “issue ads” and funding candidate advertising only through PACs and political parties. The decision will mean a flood of advertising dollars onto broadcast television, cable, and every other medium.
Putting aside what this will mean to electoral politics, what will it mean for news and information? In the short term, it will probably mean tons more advertising dollars especially for local broadcast stations. One could imagine a scenario in which these dollars were re-invested in local journalism, and it was the kind of journalism that supported beat reporters and the other kinds of information gathering that has been under threat. But it’s not at all clear that this is the kind of journalism the market would support or, therefore, that ad dollar recipients would choose to expand.
One thing that seems fairly clear is that the influx of ad dollars will REQUIRE more journalism. Corporations will be required to disclose when they are responsible for advertising (over a certain dollar amount). But it may not always be obvious why they are supporting a certain candidate. Journalism will be required. This might be just the kind of database journalism that the “crowd” or citizen journalists can do, if they have access to the right kinds of data. Or it might be the kind of journalism that only intrepid, “feet on the ground” full-time journalists can do. Probably, it will be a combination of both. Will the news and information apparatus up to making meaning from increased corporate spending on elections?
Posted in Ideas and Debates , Trial Balloons , Business Models and Financial Trends
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