By Dawn Wolfe
Think the medium is the message? Check out Free Press!
…and no, we’re not talking about Detroit’s corporate-owned paper.
“Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, and to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector,” according to their web site.
According to law, the public airwaves are just that – public property, though that can be hard to tell given the sway that media companies hold over federal, state and local governments. Free Press works to counteract that influence by involving everyday citizens in the decisions that will affect what we all get to see, read and watch.
Current Free Press campaigns include involvement in the re-writing of media ownership rules. New FCC rules that would have allowed even more centralized corporate control of media have recently been struck down in court, but ongoing vigilance is needed to insure that the same rules aren’t rewritten using somewhat different language.
The organization is also involved in work to legalize low-power FM stations, advocating community internet, and organizing citizens to attend FCC public hearings. Ongoing programs include advocacy to counterbalance the prevalence of corporate dollars in lobbying and campaign finance, a campaign to rein in advertising and commercialism, and a program to shape policies encouraging development of independent, non-commercial, alternative media.
The Free Press site also offers a huge storehouse of information, from a library on media issues to a beginner’s guide to media activism and an extensive list of links to other media advocacy organizations. You can also sign up to receive email alerts – and, of course, you can donate online.
Why is public involvement in the media important? Again from the Free Press site, “We strive to open up the media system to allow more diversity of opinion to be expressed, to present a broader perspective, and to increase the caliber of information available to everyday people.”
If you are tired of an Education Secretary who is able to pull gay-friendly programming from public television, media conglomerates that refuse to run television ads from a gay-friendly church, and the general lack of LGBT-inclusive media, Free Press ought to be among your bookmarked sites.
For more information about the public media, related organizations, and ways that you can be involved, visit http://www.freepress.net.