Fire, Community, and Media

On Saturday night eleven fires were set in my old neighborhood of Northampton, Massachusetts. Eight homes were burned and three cars destroyed. Two people died. I am away for the holidays and have been following these terrible events from afar, touching base with friends when possible.

As the story unfolds I find myself triangulating my grief and empathy for those affected in street names that are so familiar, streets that I walked a thousand times. Many of the houses that burned were daily landmarks where I watched the seasons play out in people’s gardens.

Not being in the area, I’ve been getting all my news about the fires online. Like many of my friends I found out about all of this through Facebook and Twitter, not through any established local news source. Continue reading


10 Journalism Resolutions for 2010

Co-authored by Josh Stearns and Tracy VanSlyke

If 2009 was a year of study and debate about the future of journalism, 2010 must be a year of action. We must come together around a core set of ideas to create a better ecosystem for sustainable and high-impact journalism. Based on the various reports and conferences from the past year, we’ve compiled the five most important areas that journalism organizations (and those invested in the future of journalism) must tackle in 2010—and suggest some initial steps to begin moving forward. Continue reading

Celebrating the Life of C. Edwin Baker

We at and Free Press learned today that the eminent communications law scholar C. Edwin Baker died this week at the age of 62. Baker was a passionate defender of the First Amendment and a longtime advocate for media and democracy.

Baker took part in the early planning meetings before was launched, and his ideas have helped to shape much of our work. Robert McChesney and John Nichols, the co-founders of Free Press, offered remembrances of Baker. Continue reading

Can The Can

Offices, classrooms and civic groups around the country are gearing up for their annual canned food drives. From now until the new year people will pile prepackaged, non-perishable food items in cardboard boxes and promptly forget about hunger and homelessness for the rest of the year.

Obviously, this is a generalization, and likely a bit unfair. But as the season of the can drive bears down on us, I have to wonder – is it time to can the can?

We need a new kind of food drive. One that helps build a sustainable infrastructure for healthy local food for everyone. One that is premised on valuing the land and the people in our community. One that is rooted in justice, not charity.
Continue reading