Comcast/NBC Merger Reflects a Broken Washington

Today, the Federal Communications Commission blessed the merger of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and Internet provider, with the iconic NBC-Universal. This comes just weeks after the FCC passed a toothless Net Neutrality rule, so full of loopholes that you could drive a truck through it. Together, these two decisions will transform American media, consolidating even more control over even more platforms, in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations. The Justice Department approved the merger just hours after the FCC.

With this decision, Comcast has the power and the incentive to apply a cable TV model to the way we access the Internet, can bully competitors like Netflix, and will inevitably jack up prices on consumers. In addition, the merger will squeeze out already struggling independent, diverse voices. We’ve shown over and over that media consolidation decreases diversity in the media, hurts jobs and consumers, and leads to more junk news, sensationalism and celebrity gossip, rather than real news and debate we need in our communities. And that was before this merger was approved.

Now, Comcast will control both what you see and how you see it. And, this merger will create a baseline for media mergers to follow, with more companies pursuing an ever larger media empire. Continue reading


Nonprofit News and the Comcast/NBC Merger

Comcast’s promise to support local nonprofit journalism organizations looks good at first glance. These new news startups are filling the gaps left by commercial media, and they need more resources.

But let’s be clear: This gesture is no reason to approve Comcast’s takeover of NBC-Universal.

One of the key concerns with the pending mega-merger is what it will mean for one company to control a community’s access to news and information online, on cable, and on broadcast stations. In eleven cities around the country, where Comcast is already the dominant cable company and Internet service provider, it’s poised to swallow up their local NBC and Telemundo broadcast stations, too.

To placate policymaker’s concerns, Comcast has been making a series of promises regarding their commitment to local news. At first it promised to preserve and maintain the status quo of news on NBC stations. Then it promised to increase news and public affairs programming by 1,000 additional hours a year (which works out to only an extra 16 minutes per day, per station). Now Comcast is promising to forge partnerships between NBC stations and local nonprofit news sites. Continue reading

Bird wings and foot soles

There is a storm of wings, all at once, they beat the air like engines, like eyelids.
Their paths are faint sounds, humming in your eyes, like heartbeats.

You say “We make the road by walking.”
You say your feet hurt, tired and dusty from sand castles scattered like pages.

We learn as children to follow the stars, so rarely seen anymore,
we tell stories about their weight, tight knots of light, fists clenched in the sky.

All the birds have fallen out of the sky like dumb stones, and you are in the field
building cairns out of their bodies. Piles of wings and beaks and tiny hearts mark your path.

By Joshua C. Stearns

(for Andrew Roberts on his birthday) Continue reading

Top Posts and Stats in 2010

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

This post was auto-generated by the WordPress statistics machine, but I liked it, so I thought I would share it here. Jump down for a list of my most popular posts this year.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2010. That’s about 26 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 50 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 192 posts.

The busiest day of the year was September 7th with 280 views. The most popular post that day was What the Arcade Fire’s Wilderness Downtown Experiment Can Teach Journalism.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for arcade fire wilderness, arcade fire wilderness downtown, kids hip hop songs, what is the wilderness downtown, and tina fey.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010. Continue reading

Journalism and Media Policy in 2011

The last ten years were tumultuous for media and journalism, with the industry shifting dramatically and new opportunities and challenges emerging. Amidst all this change, the media policies that shape everything we watch, read and hear, have had a hard time catching up.

In a recent cover story in the Columbia Journalism Review, Steve Coll of the New America Foundation wrote: “We badly require new policies and new thinking in Washington because the media policy regime we have inherited is out of date and inadequate for the times in which we live.”

As we enter 2011, a number of pressing policy decisions will confront those of us who care about the future of journalism and media. Continue reading