Media Reform Alliance Presses Obama To Keep His Word

Free Press has assembled over 100 media reform organizations and activists to sign a letter to President-elect Barack Obama that asks, in essence, for him to implement the media agenda that he articulated in his campaign. What follows is from the press release issued by Free Press:

We congratulate you for putting crucial media and technology issues in the public spotlight. Not only did your campaign embrace new technology and innovative media, you have embraced these values in your policy agenda. Your commitment and detailed plan represent a fundamental shift toward communications policy in the public interest. We happily offer our support and service in pursuit of our common goals.

We look forward to working with the leaders you will appoint to the White House, such as the Chief Technology Officer, the positions on the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, Corporation of Public Broadcasting and in the Commerce, Education, Justice and Agriculture departments. We urge you to select strong proponents of the public interest who will embrace and enact the policy proposals you made on the campaign trail to shape the future of the media, the Internet, the economy — and our democracy.

Together, we have a unique opportunity to break with the past, lift the stranglehold industry lobbyists have had on communications policy, and put the public’s priorities first. In your own words, you pledged:

  • Protect an Open Internet: To “take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality” and “protect the Internet’s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy.”
  • Promote Universal, Affordable Broadband: To see that “in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online” by bringing “true broadband to every community in America.”
  • Diversify Media Ownership: To create “the diverse media environment that federal law requires and the country deserves.”
  • Renew Public Media: To foster “the next generation of public media,” and “support the transition of existing public broadcasting entities and help renew their founding vision in the digital world.”
  • Spur Economic Growth: To “strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world” and leverage technology “to grow the economy, create jobs, and solve our country’s most pressing problems.”
  • Ensure Open Government: To reverse “policies that favor the few against the public interest,” close” the revolving door between government and industry,” and achieve “a new level of transparency, accountability and participation for America’s citizens.”

The more than one hundred people who signed onto this letter — and the millions more we represent in our organizations, workplaces and communities — join your call to create a more vibrant and diverse media system and to deliver the benefits of the open Internet and new technology to all Americans.

That is an ambitious and commendable agenda, and one that we all must work hard to pursue. It is very easy for a new administration to get bogged down in competing priorities, particularly in challenging times such as we are enduring today. And it is easy for politicians to abandon principles in the face of opposition or in the name of compromise. That is a pattern that both Obama and the Democratic Party has displayed far too often.

However, despite the obvious severity of our nation’s present condition – economic turmoil, multiple wars, environmental calamity, legal and Constitutional decay, etc. – media reform must remain at the top of the priority list. The solutions to every problem that threatens America’s well being relies on the participation of the people in the process. The media provides the only channel to communicate and educate on a mass scale, and without it there can be no progress. It is, therefore, critical that we shape the media in a fashion that promotes independence, diversity, and respect for openness and honesty.

The Obama agenda, as articulated by him, is a good model for how to proceed. Now he (and we) need to follow through.