Thinking Across the Issues, Part Two

A Report Out from the Free Press Summit: Changing Media (

The mid-day panel at the Free Press Summit: Changing Media, raised vital questions about the future of American media: Will our new media system be a resource for all Americans, an engine for economic growth, and a platform for new forms of art, entertainment, education and information? Or will we let the digital divide grow, expanding the information gap and cutting more people off from the benefits of the Web?

Moderated by Ray Suarez, of PBS’ The NewsHour, the panel included two former FCC chairmen, Reed Hundt and Michael Powell, as well as Jessica Rosenworcel from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, venture capitalist Ram Shriram and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott.

Together, the panel took a hard look at the role of government in shaping the media in America. Since our nation’s founding, government – recognizing the vital role of a robust media system – has developed policies that have had an impact on everything we see, read and hear. If we are at a turning point for the media in America – what role will the government play? Continue reading


Thinking Across the Issues, Part One

A Report Out From the Free Press Summit: Changing Media (

If there was any overarching theme from the morning’s keynote speeches at the Free Press Summit on May 14th it is that we cannot think about the future of any one media policy in isolation.

For too long, our media system has been shaped by policies – for media ownership, broadband deployment, public media funding – that were made in silos, cordoned off from one another. The different agencies, different laws, and different priorities that have guided these discussions have left us with a media system that is disjointed and in crisis.

But at the Summit we heard from Michael J. Copps, acting FCC chairman, and Susan Crawford of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council that we are at a unique moment — a turning point for media. Continue reading

The Narrative of Our Nation

The same year that I published my first book of poetry, I learned to build trails. While building a bridge out of red maple and black ash, I thought about building a story. Moving stones to build a staircase, is not so different from moving words to construct an essay. The first time I sharpened my own ax I thought about sharpening pencils. At night, the lake where I was living looked like ink.

As I began my year of service with the Student Conservation Association, my goal was to strike a balance between my commitments to writing, community, and the environment. Sitting around the big table in our communal dining room the twenty people I would be spending the next year with introduced themselves.

Name. Hometown. Major. One other fact about yourself.

One after the other these recent college graduates described themselves in disciplines: Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, Natural Resource Management, Environmental Law, Landscape Architecture, Chemistry, Forestry… and then there was me.

Everyone was surprised to find an English major in their midst. Continue reading

New Strategies for Saving the News

Last week, Free Press released a study I co-authored entitled “Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy.” It is a comprehensive new examination of the journalism crisis from a public policy perspective.

The report provides an in-depth analysis of current and emerging models for journalism and public policies to support these new models. As the first study of its kind, “Saving the News” outlines the clear and immediate need for a national journalism strategy.

Download the full report. Continue reading