Chicago’s Local Broadcasters Speak Up

Local and independent broadcasters around Chicago are speaking up as the date of the fifth FCC hearing on media ownership draws near. The Sept. 20 public hearing will be an important chance for local media outlets to raise their voice about the vital role they play in their communities. They are eager to highlight the ways in which independent radio, TV and newspapers consistently serve the public interest, while Big Media turns its back on local communities. Continue reading

Big Media Don’t Reflect the Diversity of Chicago

Last month, the Media Management Center at Northwestern University published an in-depth study of Chicago’s local TV news experience. While designed to help station managers build their audience, the report offers some important insight on how well the big five TV stations are serving the public.

Click here to learn more about the study

With the Sept. 20 FCC media ownership hearing swiftly approaching, the findings in this report are an important reminder of the ways Big Media leave local communities underserved and under-represented. Continue reading

Murdoch’s Media March

More than half a century after taking over his father’s Australian media business, Rupert Murdoch has built a media empire with unparalleled reach. But his ability to grow his holdings has been aided every step of the way by big money and bad policies.

A brief look at Murdoch’s march towards media consolidation highlights the ways in which he has consistently bent the rules, broken the law or simply made up new policies to build his media empire and get what he wants. It also offers a glimpse of where he might take the Wall Street Journal in the future. Continue reading

Online Videos Respond to Murdoch’s Deal

Some of the most compelling responses to the news of Rupert Murdoch’s deal to buy the Wall Street Journal and parent company Dow Jones have come from the online videos flooding YouTube and other video sites. Bloggers, documentary makers, activists and concerned citizens are using the emerging online video medium to start a public debate on Murdoch’s takeover in a way that was nearly impossible just a few years ago.

Below are just a few examples: Continue reading

Taking the Lead

In the fight against infotainment, news anchors are starting to take the lead.

Tired of having their work watered down by celebrity scandals and other gossip being passed off as legitimate news, these reporters are pushing back against the bland “infotainment” that fills our airwaves.

First it was Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC, who tried to burn her producer’s notes on Paris Hilton on live television, and then when she was told to lead with the story again, fed the notes through a shredder. As of this writing, just under a month later, the YouTube video of Brzezinski’s protest has been viewed 2,942,320 times. Continue reading

A Good Deal for Murdoch, A Bad Deal for Democracy

Originally posted at Stop Big Media on July 17, 2007. View the original post here

This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that News Corp. has reached a tentative deal to buy Dow Jones. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has led the media consolidation charge, buying up prime media properties, homogenizing content, and spinning the news to serve his business interests and personal ideology. Now one of America’s most widely read and respected financial journals may be about to get the Murdoch treatment. Continue reading

Eating Well While Doing Good

Originally posted at Kitchen Dancing on September 24, 2007. View original post here.

I just returned from a week of organizing in Chicago. I was working to be educate the public about media reform issues in Chicago in the lead up to the 5th of 6 FCC hearings on media ownership. This was a rare opportunity for the public to talk directly to the people who make the rules, speaking truth to power. More than 800 people attended the public hearing and more than 200 people signed up to speak.

It was an enthralling and exhausting week. Most days I worked between 12 and 16 hour days going to meetings, facilitating workshops, working with activists on turn out and helping them write their testimony. I ate when I could, and often this meant grabbing a muffin at a local coffee shop, or a sub at a mini mart. At night, when we wrapped up our various activities for the day, my colleagues and I would head out to what ever place still served food after 11pm, usually a bar of some sort, and had a late dinner of whatever we could get – often something fried. Continue reading

Footing the Bill

Originally posted at Kitchen Dancing on August 25th, 2007. View original post here

The first in a series of articles on the Farm Bill.

From econ.lastate.eduSome of you might know that in the past month I began a new job, working for a fantastic media reform organization (Free Press). One of our main talking points at Free Press focuses on how the current media system we have (i.e. ultra consolidated, corporately controlled, homogonous, infotainment) is not the natural outgrowth of market forces. It is easy to view our consolidated media – where a mere six companies control more than 75% of what we see, hear, and read – as the result of business deals and the laws supply and demand at work.

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Food, Place, Memory

Originally posted at Kitchen Dancing on July 27th, 2007. View the original post here.

My friend Abby Dallmann recently returned for a brief visit in the middle of a two year stint working and living in Hungary. My wife (and co-author of this blog), Erica lived in Hungary for a year when she was sixteen, and so the two of them swapped stories and compared notes about the area. When Erica was there, living in a small town called Szeged, it was nearly impossible to find a person who spoke English, or find many foods commonly found in America.

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Sexy Tomatoes

Originally posted at Kitchen Dancing on July 16, 2007. View the original post here.  

Not long ago NPR did a story about the Florida Tomato Committee, who hired an advertising firm to create a new image for the little red crop with an identity problem (is it a fruit or is it a vegetable? You call it tomato, I call it tomato…). Why do Florida tomatoes need an advertising agency? It seems that in the wake of recent storms and distribution problems, grocery stores began ordering fewer and fewer tomatoes. So Florida farmers were suffering crop damage from the weather and lower than normal demand. The reporter painted a grim picture of Florida fields, stained red with rotting tomatoes.

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Wants and Needs

Originally published on Kitchen Dancing on July 16, 2007. View original post here.

The first time Erica and I walked through the big barn doors into the cool shade of the CSA barn, we were struck by the commotion inside. The roof over the biggest room in the barn is held up by two 8×8 timbers. Both are surrounded by tables where big baskets overflow with lettuce, kale, and cabbage. On our first day carrots, radishes, and a few early chives were laid out on the table in neat piles as well.

Families and farmers milled around the tables of vegetables, while friends stood in the corners getting caught up, nibbling on the fresh produce they were carrying. The entire place smelled of warm dirt, kicked up from kids chasing each other in one door and out the other.

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Picking Strawberries


Originally posted at Kitchen Dancing on July 12, 2007. View the original post here.

It’s hard not to think about the sweetness in life when you are picking strawberries. Working side by side with my wife, we crouch over the thick bushes and push the leaves aside looking for the perfect berry. The ground is littered with missed opportunities, rotten fruit left hanging too long. We laugh at the sadness brought on by the dark red spots rotting at the base of the bushes. We laugh because we both think of the strawberries dying, the personification of the berries is complemented by the bright red stains on the ground. We talk about the energy contained in each berry, of good summer sun and hands that planted each bush, the energy of compost and soil, plowed and enriched. And while the berries might be lost, and our taste buds may be mournful, the energy is multiplied in seeds spread as each dark red berry is returned to the earth.


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Why Blog About Food?

Originally posted at Kitchen Dancing, on July 8, 2007. View the original post here.

When Erica and I began talking about doing some sort of joint writing project food was a topic that surfaced fairly early. As with most things there are probably innumerable reasons why we chose food but a few key reasons pop into my mind.

For the past three years we have been members of a community supported agriculture farm (CSA) in Amherst, Massachusetts. The experience of being a member of this farm has radically reshaped our relationship to our food and has consistently pushed our thinking about food issues. It has been a wonderful experience which has made us so much more aware of what we eat and where our food comes from. At the same time, and in part due to our experiences on the farm, Erica and I have embarked on a number of other food related adventures. We have begun to do biweekly potlucks to build community and connect friends from different parts of our lives. I have been teaching a food unit for the past two semester in my writing classes which has encouraged college students to use writing to take a critical look at the personal and cultural aspects of food in their lives. Finally, in trying to make the most out of the food we get at the farm, we have begun canning and preserving food. Almost without realizing it, food has taken on an increasingly central role in the way Erica and I think about our lives, our community, and the broader world around us. I want to talk a bit more about each of these below.

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Making Maps

Originally posted at Conservation Nation, the SCA blog, on May 25th, 2007. View the original post here.

Rebecca Solnit recently published an essay called “Maps for the Year Ahead” in Orion Magazine. The piece offers a number of striking observations about space, place, and land in the wake of tragedy. Looking at events like the1906 earthquake in San Francisco and hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Solnit draws a connection between urban sprawl and the power of natural disasters to make us feel disoriented and, in a very real sense, ungrounded. This reminded me of a friend of mine who led rafting trips. He once told me that each year, and after big rain storm, river guides have to re-learn the river because the river bed changes so dramatically. Solnit’s discussion of displacement and mapping made me wonder how often we have to re-learn our landscape and how quickly it can change.

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