Federal Communications Commission

Statement from Steven Waldman

January 20th, 2010 by Steve Waldman - Senior Advisor to the Chairman




Hi. My name is Steven Waldman. I’m a senior advisor to the chairman of the FCC. I want to tell you about a new project at the FCC about the future of media and the information needs of communities. 

          As you know, the media landscape is changing rapidly. We’re really at a critical juncture in communications history. Why? Two major things are going on simultaneously. On the one hand, we’re seeing tremendous innovation – exciting changes -- in the media world. Primarily due to the Internet, consumers are exposed to more voices and viewpoints than ever before.  And they have more ways to connect with each other and make their voices heard.

          On the other hand, traditional media business models are struggling or collapsing.  Newspapers and TV stations have been laying off thousands of professional journalists.  This has raised strong bipartisan concerns about whether our media will remain strong and independent enough to protect consumers and hold leaders accountable.  That’s potentially a huge problem for our democracy.

          That’s why FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski decided to launch a major new agency-wide project to make sure that citizens and communities end up with vibrant, diverse sources of news and information –  information that enables them to enrich their lives, their communities and their democracy. These have always been key goals for the FCC and America’s communications policy. But we must make sure those historic goals are met in this new, digital era. 

          By the way, in a digital era, when we talk about “news and information,” we’re not only referring to journalism.  It’s also about making sure consumers get the information they need from government and other sources about schools, crime, public health, natural disasters or other issues that affect them dearly.

          The starting point for this effort, of course, is the First Amendment.  A free press, independent of government control, is a foundational principle of our democracy. Any time the government even looks at the media, we have to be very careful. Keeping that principle in mind always, the experts here working on these issues will work first to gain a detailed, fact-based understanding of what’s happening in the media world. Then, we will make recommendations, including possibly suggestions for government policy changes.

          But we really need your help. You and your families have a direct stake in this.  We truly hope you will come to this arena and add your comments about the information needs of your community and how the media can meet those needs.  Thank you.


14 Responses to “Statement from Steven Waldman”

  1. Guest says:

    Back in Dec '09, Rupert Murdoch made this point:
    "In the new business model, we will be charging consumers for the news we provide on our Internet sites...The critics say people won't pay," he said. "I believe they will, but only if we give them something of good and useful value. Our customers are smart enough to know that you don't get something for nothing."

    He also took aim at aggregators and websites that he said misappropriate content.

    "Some rewrite, at times without attribution, the news stories of expensive and distinguished journalists who invested days, weeks, or even months in their stories, all under the tattered veil of 'fair use,' " he said. "These people are not investing in journalism. They are feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others. And their almost wholesale misappropriation of our stories is not 'fair use.' To be impolite, it's theft."

    Ariana Huffington remarked:
    "It amazes me that Murdoch and Brill and the pay wall team at the [New York] Times continue to believe that people are prepared to pay for news online, despite the recent survey showing that 80 percent of U.S. news consumers say they wouldn't bother to read news and magazines online if the content were no longer free," she said.

    As a consumer, I can assure you that I, and millions of others, would be willing to pay for accurate and truthful journalism. Thus Mr. Murdoch would get my money while Ms. Huffington would not. Maybe that's what she is afraid of. Free enterprise will determine if a media outlet will survive and should not be controlled/funded by the government.

    Take a look at NPR and PBS, those are already government funded and, in most cases do not reflect most American's opinions. These outlets are VERY FAR LEFT media outlets and would lead me to believe that ANY tax payer assisted media will be outlets such as these on steroids.

    The government needs to stay out of the way of controlling or funding these outlets. It is up to these businesses to find the financial backing to be able to produce the type of product that consumers will be willing to pay for. If, in fact, they are producing a marketable and truthful product, consumers will pay for it. We MUST NOT be forced to fund them with our tax dollars.

    The argument that we need more diversity doesn't hold water any longer. I go through my television and radio and find channel after channel of Hispanic and Black programming. Anyone interested in putting up the investment has the opportunity. JUST NOT WITH MY TAX DOLLARS!

    My husband and I had owned our own business for 10 years and understand what it means to have "skin in the game." We NEVER depended on the government to assist us in our business.

    There isn't anything in our Constitution that says we must fund the media. As a matter of fact, FREEDOM OF THE PRESS means: The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to publish and distribute information in books, magazines, and newspapers WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION.

    The media outlets that find themselves on the brink of failure are in that position because the consumer has rebuffed their journalism. Nothing more, nothing less. Just good old capitalism at work. We know how much they hate capitalism......maybe that's the problem. Their journalism doesn't line up with the majority of the consumers.

    In one study regarding the effect of government funding with Argentina's media, it found that government dollars come with strings attached.

    More government money = less coverage of corruption

    Their analysis found a “huge correlation” between, in any given month, how much money went to a newspaper and how much corruption coverage appeared on its front page. For example, if the government ad revenue in a month increased by one standard deviation — around $70,000 U.S. — corruption coverage would decrease by roughly half of a front page.

    In closing, it is "Public Knowledge" ( no pun intended for those that understand that one of the main organizations behind the push for government hand outs is a group called Public Knowledge http://www.publicknowledge.org/ and "Free Press" http://www.freepress.net/about_us/board) that this "diversity" campaign is nothing more that left wing radicals that want to silence the majority of Americans and media that isn't in lock step with the current administration.

    Americans have awakened to this and are spreading the word to expose what this "crisis" is really all about.

    Any intervention by the government will be in violation of our 1st Amendment and will be challenged on all legal fronts.

  2. John Poole says:

    Why does this talk seem chilling to me? Terms like "our media" are very suspect. The mainstream media SHOULD be teetering on "defunctness". When the mainstream recording industry imploded it was a good thing. No one is worrying about what gets or doesn't get on radio today since play lists will be as staged today as they were in the 70s and even earlier. The FCC could never begin to assure fairness and integrity in the radio wave spectrum so why would it even think it could be of anything other than a hindrance in newer venues? John Poole. see wyncoteacademy.org faculty if curious

  3. John Poole says:

    Why do I distrust this reassuring policy statement? Mainstream media is rightfully headed for the tar pits. Where was the FCC when the airwaves were the private fiefdom of the recording industry plutarchy? Oh, yes there were periodic payola hearings which were quite lame efforts at reforming the medium. Actually this cogent eloquence from Steven Waldman sounds a lot like another guy- the commander in chief. Ah, that is why is sounds chilly and phony.

  4. Timothy Kelly says:

    First off, it is a fallacy that this country(USA) is a democracy! We were founded as a Republic(a governmental structure which protects the rights of the minority, in lue of a demo(n)cracy which overtly subjugates 49% of the citizens). Secondly, this is more corporate propaganda, as each member has been appointed by Barry Soetoro, and was supposedly 'unanimously' approved. The propensity for insidious individuals to seek positions of control is overwhelmingly the case with the FCC and the US federal government. Harvard Law grads are cut from the same cloth, as vile and contemptuous individuals whom possess the veneer of entitlement.

    Remember well the words of George Carlin, "You have the illusion of choice in America. The owners of this country don't give a damn about your 'rights'. There doesn't need to be a formal conspiracy when like interests converge."

    I will fight your regulation of the internet and desire to manipulate all facets of information, with every ounce of my being! Our Republic is falling, yet by the will of the people it shall rise in even greater glory than before.

  5. Guest says:

    Someone posting below said:
    " A federal effort to bring more fairness to Fox's news is required. "

    So the government is going to become a thought-control engineer? Is this a Chavez regime or is this America?

    You are telling me a government official is going to determine what information I should have available to me? No way. This is a free country. Don't doublespeak me out of my freedom.

  6. K.C. Waters says:

    Knowledge is power. Whoever owns the media controls it to some degree. That's why it is best to have as many owners as possible
    for various media outlets. This will promote diverse choices which will help maximize our knowledge base.

  7. Guest says:

    As part of this initiative, I ask that consideration be given to new regulation that strengthens fair and balanced news coverage at any news network openly promoting its political stance (i.e., Fox News). The mission statement says this initiative is being undertaken "to make sure that citizens and communities end up with vibrant, diverse sources of news and information – information that enables them to enrich their lives, their communities and their democracy." Democracy is not enriched by Fox News -- this news network has proven again and again to espouse disregard, even hatred, for others of a different viewpoint, namely those who question the far-right agenda. Our communities are hurt by this network -- it is everything that America does not stand for. As a advocate of a free press I have tolerated Fox News, but it has become a vile element in our society warranting federal regulation. A federal effort to bring more fairness to Fox's news is required.

  8. Guest says:

    does anybody think that stuff should be censerd because its more enjoyable uncencerd

  9. Austin says:

    "Steve" from Voice123.com, you are clearly delusional in your assessment. You say that "Free speech is not absolute when the content puts the general population at risk of personal harm" but you fail to state 'how' having multiple/independent news outlets is a risk or can lead to personal harm. The Right of Free Speech is the backbone of our republic and without it someday you too could be told what you can or cannot say.

    And how do you define "nonsense"? You make the claim that the information found on the Internet has damaged a generation but in what way? Because they do not believe as you do? Because they may espouse different ideals and values as you so they are "damaged" and the information they rely on must be stiffled? How very unAmerican such a view is.

    I am in agreement with the majority of commentors on this blog when I say that the FCC does not have, and should not have, ANY say in what information is posted on the Internet. They are not the thought police, they are not the parents of my children, and from a constitutional perspective they should not exist in the first place.

    As an FREE American, I get to decide what information I find relevent. I get to decide for myself what news sources I find to be credible - I don't need a government agency to filter it for me and certainly not with my tax dollars.

  10. Guest says:

    I like things the way they are. I watch 24 hour news, blog, and research all over the internet. I would hate to have government intervention because this is what is allowing me, along with others, to get information that I would otherwise not be able to get anywhere else but the net.

  11. Gina says:

    Anytime the government wants to "control" the media we should all take notice. We need more "real journalists" out there bringing us the truth in news. I hate MSNBC news, Keith Olberdorf is a dolt, Mika has the personality of a rock, they spew hatred all day long. But they have a right to say what ever they want too. We can turn the channel if we don't like it. If you don't like whats on the TV, change the channel, don't try to control the airwaves. In our "Republic", not democracy, we have freedom. Learn the difference, it does matter. The people on the left don't understand freedom. They understand control. Its easier to be a follower than to be a leader. It takes no effort. Its easier to be a liberal because you don't have to do any thinking. Being a conservative takes guts to learn the truth. Government is not the answer to our problems. Freedom is. Our rights have been chisled away, slowly but surely. We are hanging by a thread. If we don't wake up and smell the fire, and turn this country around, the great experiment called the United States of America will be over. We were founded as a Christian nation. Without GOD we will be lost. I don't care if you are an athiest or any religion, gay or not, black or white or green, so at the same time could you please extend me the same courtesy that I give you? What does it matter if we worship? Fly a flag? We have a right just like anyone else to live in safety, without the left attacking us. They are a real angry bunch, nothing makes them happy. They are miserable. Thats because they are missing something. Its called GOD. They have a form of worship, its called "earth". They worship "the created" instead of "The Creator". They have their sacrifice, its called abortion. They say they are the ones who care for the down trodden, but if you take the time to really find out about them, and really find out about conservatism, you will see they are completely different. Take the time. Learn about our history, learn the difference between a republic and democracy, learn what socialism, communism are. Then you will see what so many before us sacrificed so that we could be free. They sacrificed their lives, their livlihood, their families. They deserve our respect to learn the truth. Thank you

  12. Steven says:

    I am completely 100% on board with Steve Waldman's words.

    The abundance of nonsense online has already damaged a generation, and the integrity of the internet.

    The Free Speech argument is pointless. Free speech is not absolute when the content puts the general population at risk of personal harm.

    I support this effort, and would cooperate in any way if prompted to do so.


  13. Guest says:

    On the other hand, traditional media business models are struggling or collapsing. Newspapers and TV stations have been laying off thousands of professional journalists. This has raised strong bipartisan concerns about whether our media will remain strong and independent enough to protect consumers and hold leaders accountable. That’s potentially a huge problem for our democracy....Just the fact that the FCC is doing this places the first amendment in danger

  14. Guest says:

    The Lame Stream media models are collapsing for one reason: journalism schools do not teach journalism -- they are filled with liberal-left professors who instructs students on how to obfuscate the truth and tilt the news to reflect the news beneficial to a particular agenda.

    The days of Woodward and Bernstein are long gone.

    Your new Reboot FCC is a new agency looking to stifle free speech on the internet, despite what your Mission Statement may state.

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