College Media and the Future of Journalism

Today I gave a presentation at the National College Media Convention here in Austin, Texas. I had a great crowd, some challenging questions, and overall a good discussion. All in all, a short one hour conference session is a tough venue to have an in-depth discussion about an issue as complex as the future of journalism.

I’m embedding my presentation here in hopes of continuing the conversation in the comment section of this blog blog. The presentation is below (sorry the videos don’t work at this point, still tweaking those). Continue reading


In Defense of Journalism Policy

This was originally posted on Nov. 30th at

Today’s Washington Post op-ed by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols recovers a past too many Americans have forgotten and sets the record straight on the government’s role in protecting journalism.

“We seek to renew a rich if largely forgotten legacy of the American free-press tradition, one that speaks directly to today’s crisis,” they write. “The First Amendment necessarily prohibits state censorship, but it does not prevent citizens from using their government to subsidize and spawn independent media.”

McChesney and Nichols, two of the co-founders of Free Press, are responding to a common misconception about government involvement in journalism is antithetical to freedom of the press. Policy has always shaped journalism, and for a long time it was policy that helped ensure freedom of the press. Continue reading

Journalism Co-Ops

What happens when the institutions we depend on – the ones supposedly “too big to fail” – begin to fail us? The unsustainable drive toward ever greater profits has undermined our society’s’ core institutions: health care, banks and now, journalism.

In response to this string of failures, it is no surprise to see small groups of people coming together locally to find ways of obtaining the information, health care and financial assistance they need in their communities.

One of these responses has been the formation of co-ops, or local cooperatives. Local cooperative banks and health care co-ops are now being held up as important social and economic models. Continue reading

Why Newspapers Need Pledge Drives

(Hint: it has nothing to do with money)

People like to complain about pledge drives on NPR and PBS, but I was recently talking with a journalist at a local public radio station who said “One of the problems facing newspapers is that they don’t have fund drives.”

She went on to explain that, while fund drives are an absolute financial necessity for NPR and PBS, the donations they receive are only part of the benefits. “Two or thee times a year we get to spend a couple hours a day telling our community how important they are to us, and reminding them how important we are to them,” she said. Continue reading

Eat, Read, Organize

For almost ten years my wife and I have held regular potlucks at our home. These dinner have been one of the most consistent parts of our life together. We have moved more than five times, changed jobs at least six times, got married, had a child, and through it all we have hosted these dinners. What began as a weekly gathering of some close friends and coworkers in Providence quickly spread until we had strangers showing up at our doorstep, and were meeting people at parties who would say “oh you’re the people who hold those potlucks…”. Continue reading

Columbia Study Reaffirms National Journalism Strategy

This is a post I wrote for – I’ll have more personal thoughts and reflections coming on this topic soon.

A hopeful future for journalism is within reach, but it’ll take an ambitious societal effort to seize the moment. That is the conclusion of a new report released today by Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

The Reconstruction of American Journalism by Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, professor of journalism at Columbia, is the third major report to be released this year that advocates for a government role in securing the future of journalism. Continue reading

Make Your Pledge Count

It’s pledge time on my local NPR station. My station likes to use various “what if” scenarios to convince people to donate. “What if you took that money you spend on fancy coffee each day and donated it to public radio?” “What if you paid the same amount for public radio as you do for cable TV or Internet access?” Lately I have been thinking, “What if everyone who made a pledge to their local NPR also wrote a letter to their policymakers demanding better funding for public media in America?”

Did you know that in America we spend only about $1.35 per capita on our public media system? Ours is among the lowest-funded systems in the world. Compare this to Canada which spends over $22 a person, and England which spends a whopping $80 per person, per year.

So be sure to call your local NPR station and make a pledge – they need it, and they deserve it. However, if you want to do more than make a pledge, if you want to make a difference and try to fight for a better public media system in America, visit and sign up to get involved.