Webinars on media and democracy

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This is a proposal for a series of webinars on media and democracy. It is on Wikiversity to encourage a wide discussion of the issues it raises moderated by the Wikimedia rules that invite contributors to “be bold but not reckless,” contributing revisions written from a neutral point of view, citing credible sources -- and raising other questions and concerns on the associated '“Discuss”' page.

Proposed: A monthly or quarterly webinar series on media and democracy.

Why[edit]

The goal would be to build an international grass roots movement to improve the quality of the media everywhere, one local area at a time. In this we would follow in part the leadership of Seattle, WA, in this area, described by Friedland (2014), and informed by research by Cagé, McChesney, and others cited in the references below and elsewhere.[1]

The urgency of this project is visible in the apparent growth in the Balkanization of the body politic, especially in the U.S. but internationally as well with the increase in terrorism from violent alt-right and Islamic elements.[2]

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States provides a visible display of the extreme range in popular understanding of the problems facing the U.S. and the world between Trump's supporters and opponents and those in between.

It seems likely that these differences in the U.S. have been amplified by the evolution of the U.S. commercial media since around 1975. During the last quarter of the twentieth century, the mainstream commercial broadcasters fired nearly all of their investigative journalists except for a few producing popular programs like 60 Minutes.[3]

This trend can be reversed by people committed to working to understand it and develop effective countermeasures to convince their friends and neighbors to unhook from the mainstream media and support alternatives that provide the information they need to better protect their interests.[4]

What[edit]

The Friends of Community Media in Kansas City[5] has hosted a monthly "Forum" since July 2017 with the third one scheduled for September 16. The first one included an interview with Ernesto Falco,[6] Legislative Council for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. Parts of that material were broadcasted on KKFI radio[7] and offered to the Pacifica Network.[8] Future "FCM Fora" are tentatively scheduled for the third Saturdays of each month at 4 - 5:30 PM Central time, though the time (and less likely the date) may be adjusted for the convenience of the presenters and others.

The current plan is to conduct these Webinars using Webex, which supports a reasonably high quality recording of both audio and video, which can subsequently be edited for posting on, e.g., WorkingJournalistPress.com,[9] offered to Pacifica Network affiliates, and be integrated into high-quality documentaries for wider distribution.

Who[edit]

Leaders in describing this problem and what to do about it include the following:

  • Lewis Friedland, professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin, with an extensive publication record in media and democracy including a literature review on critical information needs of the American people (Freidland et al. 2012), a discussion of governmental support for media literacy and democratic participation in Seattle, WA (Friedland 2014), and co-editing a collection of research papers on media and democracy (Lloyd and Friedland, 2016). When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was considering funding research to expand the work in the literature review, "[t]he National Association of Broadcasters strongly opposed the FCC’s research plans, and soon after, what Kathleen Hall Jamieson calls the right-wing echo chamber was in full attack mode in an attempt to kill any research into whether local communities were getting their critical information needs met. Republicans threatened investigations, and finally, the small independent research group hired to test the potential of a study design withdrew. Given the firestorm from the right, and the confused and relatively tepid response from both progressive communication policy advocates and the academic community, the FCC moved on to the much more popular concern over net neutrality (Friedland 2014, 92– 126).”[10]
  • Julia Cagé, assistant professor of economics at Science Po in Paris, the premier political science university in France, has done some of the best research on media funding and governance. She recommends a “nonprofit media organization (NMO)”, which explicitly splits the governance of an NMO roughly equally between funders, employees and audience of a media organization.[11] Other research with Valeria Rueda found that literacy and political participation is higher in regions close to the locations in 1903 of missions with printing pressed.[12]
  • Robert McChesney, professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, has recommended citizen-directed subsidies for media. One example is the U.S. after the Postal Service Act of 1792: Under this act, newspapers were delivered up to 100 miles for a penny and beyond for 1.5 cents, when first class postage was between 6 and 25 cents depending on distance. This helped encourage literacy and reduce corruption, both of which played important roles in helping keep the U.S. together and growing as it did.[13] McChesney and Nichols also claim that Truman, Eisenhower and MacArthur required the post-fascist governments of German and Japan to subsidize independent media in ways that seem to have made major contributions to the modern democratic governments there and through that to their subsequent peaceful reconstruction and prosperity. They further suggest that if the U.S.-led occupation forces in post-Saddam Iraq had demanded similar independent media, the history of recent conflict there would likely have been very different. Instead, U.S.-imposed censorship encouraged political corruption without which the Islamic State might never have made international headlines if it had existed at al.
  • allsides.com places side by side reports from publications that cater to different left vs. center vs. right portions of the political spectrum. In that sense, it looks similar to the national and international portion of the proposed news aggregator in "everyone's favorite news site". More research is needed to understand better their funding model, how they select what news to post, and how they decide if a source is "left", "center" or "right".

For more on this[edit]

For more background, see the Wikiversity articles on “Everyone's favorite news site”, “Winning the War on Terror”, “Media and corruption”, and “Media and politics”.

References[edit]

  • Cagé, Julia (2016). Saving the media: Capitalism, crowdfunding and democracy. Harvard U. Pr.. ISBN 9780674659759. 
  • Friedland, Lewis A. (2014), "5. Civic communication in a networked society: Seattle's emergent ecology", in Girouard, Jennifer; Diranni, Carmen, Varieties of Civic Innovation, Vanderbilt U. Pr., ISBN 0826519997 
  • Lloyd, Mark; Friedland, Lewis A. (2016), The Communications Crisis in America, And How to Fix It, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-349-95030-0 

Notes[edit]

  1. especially the Wikiversity article on "Winning the War on Terror".
  2. The Global Terrorism Database might be studied for what it might say about this.
  3. McChesney, Robert W. (2004), The Problem of the Media, Monthly Review Press, ISBN 1-58367-105-6  For more on this, see, for example the Wikiversity article on “Winning the War on Terror”.
  4. Reversing this trend might be easier if we can retain net neutrality, an issue discussed in the Wikiversity article on "[[Net neutrality and 'Restoring Internet freedom' ]]".
  5. , Friends of Community Media, http://ourfcm.org/ 
  6. Ernesto Falcon, Legislative Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation, https://www.eff.org/about/staff/ernesto-omar-falcon 
  7. Graves, Spencer; Falcon, Ernesto (July 25, 2017), $15 minimum wage on Aug. 8 ballot in KCMO plus Trump’s attack on net neutrality, KKFI, http://www.kkfi.org/program-episodes/15-minimum-wage-aug-8-ballot-kcmo-plus-trumps-attack-net-neutrality/ 
  8. Graves, Spencer (2017-07-13), Net Neutrality interview with Ernesto Falcon, Electronic Frontier Foundation, AudioPort.org, http://audioport.org/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=122008&nav=& , Graves, Spencer (2017-07-15), Net neutrality per Ernesto Falcon at FCM Forum, AudioPort.org, http://audioport.org/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=122008&nav=& 
  9. e.g., Graves, Spencer (2017-07-15), ANALYSIS: Another Trump oxymoron? "Restoring Internet Freedom" by destroying net neutrality, Working Journalist Press, http://workingjournalistpress.com/articles/170715/Another-Trump-oxymoron-Restoring-Internet-freedom-by-destroying-net-neutrality.php 
  10. Quoted from Lloyd and Friedland.
  11. Cagé, Julia (2016). Saving the media: Capitalism, crowdfunding and democracy. Harvard U. Pr.. ISBN 9780674659759. 
  12. Cagé, Julia; Rueda, Valeria (2016), "The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in sub-Saharan Africa", American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 8 (3), https://sites.google.com/site/juliacagehomepage/research 
  13. McChesney, Robert W.; Nichols, John (2016), People get ready: The fight against a jobless economy and a citizenless democracy, Nation Books, ISBN 9781568585215