NYT report - Different Channels, Same News - Sound familiar?

Today, Brian Stelter has an interesting article in the New York Times today that highlights the pitfalls of new content among shared services agreements (SSAs). If you watch television here in Hawaii, you may be aware of these concerns seen in the SSA that lives here. While it's unsettling to see the same exact content across channels like a hall of mirrors, the FCC's reaction is particularly troubling. The government office apparently doesn't have complete data on the number of such agreements across the country. Thankfully, the NYT sources University of Delaware Professor, Danilo Yanich's research as we have done elsewhere in the blog.


Defining Journalists in a Digital Age on World Press Freedom Day UNESCO Director-General Ms Irina Bokova

In a joint message with UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon,  Bokova said, "Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise."

UNESCO leads awareness of World Press Freedom Day, and has a rich trove of resources on their site. According to the Bokova's statement, "last year, UNESCO condemned the killing of 62 journalists who died as a result of their work." Also highlighted by UNESCO is that in our current age of digital storytelling, "more online journalists, including bloggers, are being harassed, attacked, and killed for their work."

While the ease of collecting and sharing news has become more ubiquitous with devices like smartphones, protecting communicators has not. Harvard's Nieman Lab has a great post on this issue today by Civil Beat contributor, Adrienne LaFrance, that helps to explain why. LaFrance wrote,

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, has given these kinds of questions a lot of thought over the years. In 2005, he founded Global Voices, a network of hundreds of bloggers around the world who work to redress “inequities in media attention by leveraging the power of citizens’ media.”

“It’s really hard to organize a campaign for every blogger who gets in trouble with the law,” Zuckerman told me this week. “In part because often you don’t get arrested for blogging, you get arrested for something else.”

Yet, "regardless of the regard you may or may not have for the news media," said vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, Gene Policinski in a column recently. "Pause for a honor those who gave their lives or their liberty so that others might better know about the world around them."

Below is the Newseum's interactive Map of World Press Freedom.

FCC Uses 'Common Sense,' Approves Plan for Online Database of Political TV Ads

Just as the sun was rising in Hawaii, Brian Stelter of The New York Times, broke the news with his report. The FCC has approved a plan for broadcasters to upload public files data to the web.

The information about ad sales is already contained in so-called public files, which stations are required to store at their offices. Moving the files online was described by the commission’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, as a “common sense” step toward transparency.

This is considered a victory to many such as FreePress, ProPublica, and former FCC researcher Steven Waldman. Though, as Stelter reported, there is still some dissent from the National Broadcast Association. They said,

“By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the Internet our political advertising rates, the F.C.C. jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and lifesaving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily.”

Keep an eye on the page for updates on when the information will go live.

Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Launches SuperPAC Ad Rocket at PBS

Aside the news of North Korea's fireworks show failed rocket launch, a recent ruling in political advertising is threatening regime change in sovereign American. The New York Times reported that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed an old ruling "that public television and radio stations could not be prohibited from broadcasting paid political advertisements."

The ruling would allow organizations like SuperPACs, to begin advertising on public TV and radio stations. On the three-judge panel,  the justices were split, reported David Lieberman of Deadline New York. "Judge Richard Paez said, in a dissent, that 'for almost 60 years, noncommercial broadcasters have been effectively insulated from the lure of paid advertising.'”

In Reuters' report, American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein, is quoted saying, the decision could "fundamentally change the character of public television and radio." The FreePress has already begun an effort urging supporters to sign a petition to stop "polluting public programming with these misleading and negative ads" by SuperPACs.

Community Media Maps Highlight Gap of Public File Info from Hawaii TV Stations

At left, are two maps of Hawaii television stations. The first shows all stations in the state, while the second has only stations where public file information has been collected and scanned. These maps are part of the Community Media Database pilot project designed to collect and present information about community media providers in the United States. To aid

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in the FCC's effort of getting television public file information online, the Community Media Database has created the map of U.S. community media providers by management type, using the National Center for Media Engagement's mapping tool. The map contains over 2,000 community access television providers and over 800 Low Power FM radio stations. More specifically, the site offers a state-by-state breakdown of Access TV, Broadcast TV, & Noncommercial FM Radio with Congressional Districts. At right, Hawaii is in focus, with pins color-coded and marking station ownership. Yellow indicates ownership by a non-profit group, of which there many stations represented. However, blue markers are commercial stations, which have the ability to broadcast throughout the state. (Click the map for more details.) We've just begun digging into the data, but will keep you posted on other findings as roll out our media and money tracking project for the 2012 election cycle soon.  

Jack Shafer on the Human Desire for Self-Expression & Facebook's Instagram Buy

Amid the blaze of criticism, speculation and punditry around Facebook's purchase of Instagram that have lit up the web today, Jack Shafer has posted a smart commentary that resonates with modern journalism. Shafer cites Facebook's move as one which identifies a flaw in their mobile app, which is exploited by Instagram, the ability for people to say, "I'm here." Today he wrote,

Sometimes the simpler the message, the more urgent the need to share it. Example: The first thing most people do upon landing at an airport and being told by the captain they can now use their mobile phones is to whip it out and tell someone—anyone!—where they are and where they’re going.

Another example may be, 'the military junta just broke into my home,' or 'our plane just landed safely in the Hudson.' As we've seen from political and social uprisings, the immediacy and simplicity of delivering an expression is integral. These 140-character messages or photos alone are basic, but aggregated en masse, they can have greater and more complex outcomes. Traditional reporting works in a similar fashion.

"I'm here" is the personal equivalent to "this is happening now" or "that just happened" (and not in the Ricky Bobby shake-n-bake way).  It's kind of like the idea behind CNN's iReport. This sale off the application could mark a point in the shift from a 'need to know' to a 'need to tell' culture of information sharing. Soon, each Instagram update, tweet and observation can become a data point in a narrative that when compiled, becomes a set for analysis and understanding. It's another form of data journalism, if you will. And Zuckerberg & Co. just bought a whole bunch more data points to track.

Will Facebook's acquisition of this application improve this sort of data collection, or reporting from it? Probably not. Yet, Shafer has honed in on a unique 21st century way that we communicate publicly.

*Also worth reading: Om Malik's and Alexis Madrigal's takes on the acquisition.

Tonight! - Why You Should Come to Sunshine and the Social Web

The excitement is really building for our panel discussion tonight, thanks to the culmination of a variety of events happening in Honolulu and around the nation.

First off, Carmille Lim, from the League of Women Voters Hawaii, will be joining us to provide her experience and fluency in social media and political activism. Civil Beat's Deputy Editor, Patti Epler who was originally set to join us, but will instead be following the GOP caucuses here in Hawaii. In following with the spirit of the evening, she's also asked community members to contribute to the fact gathering for Civil Beat's reports on the caucuses (more info at the link.)

Second, R. Elton Johnson III wrote a great editorial in the Star Advertiser today entitled, Government needs to shine a brighter light on the public's business. It's behind the paywall, but is an excellent report on state legislation and certainly worth reading. In particular, it's a reminder of what sunshine is all about,. He wrote:

The goal of sunshine with respect to public agency meetings in our state government is articulated pretty well at the first section of Hawaii's Sunshine Law (Hawaii Revised Statues Chapter 92): "In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Governmental agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest."

Third, in addition to this week being Sunshine Week, it is the first week of the annual South by Southwest music, film, and interactive conference and festival in Austin, Texas. Our Twitter feed has exploded with the #sxsw hashtag and brilliant quotes, ideas and innovations worth sharing. Jennifer Pahlka, of Code for America, wooed an audience today with lines like:

"We have built an amazing consumer Internet…what we need to do now is build the citizen Internet"

Fourth, Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith of the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a very interesting and timely study yesterday on Social Networking & Politics. From the overview of the study, they wrote:

“Social networking sites have become places where political conversation, debate, and proselytizing occur, especially during campaign seasons. These new arenas of political discussion have drawn attention among political activists and have been a major focus of activity particularly since the campaign of Barack Obama aggressively embraced them in the 2008 presidential campaign. At the same time, some analysts have expressed concerns about the impact of social networking sites on the broad political culture.”

Last, not that you needed much more than that to remind you of how awesome this Sunshine Week is shaping up to be, but if you look outside you window in Honolulu right now, you'll also recognize the return of that bright star over our islands. Hope to see you tonight at the GreenHouse!

FlackCheck Wants SuperPacs to Stand By Their Ads

Last Friday, WNYC's On the Media featured Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of the Annenberg Public Public Center at the University Pennsylvania, and discussed a new SuperPac monitoring project by called, Stand By Your Ad.

The project is designed to hold third-party political campaign advertisements accountable for the (mis) information delivered in their content. FlackCheck has created an email and station database, so that viewers can request that their local stations quit carrying inaccurate, polarizing political advertisements. It's a smart effort to keep citizenry informed, and MCH will be working with FlackCheck to provide campaign Ad information this summer - so stay tuned!

  Also, if you're an OTM fan and appreciate the excellent reporting provided by Brooke and Bob at On the Media, please support their programming. Clicking the image to pledge directly.

Media Ownership Comments Submitted by MCH for FCC Quadrennial Review

On Monday, Media Council Hawaii filed QR 2010 Comments with the FCC. The document is cosigned by the Benton FoundationCommon CauseCommunications Workers of AmericaMedia AllianceNational Organization for Women Foundation and the Office of Communications of United Church of Christ, Inc. In the comments we are requesting a number of changes that will help prevent the kind of virtual mergers like we face here with Raycom. A study of shared services agreements by University of Delaware professor, Danilo Yanich, illuminates the number and styles of these agreements nationally.

By May 2010, when MCH and Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed joint comments in the Future of Media proceeding, their research had uncovered sharing arrangements in 42 different markets. A study published in October 2011 by University of Delaware professor Danilo Yanich found that there were as many as 83 television markets with at least one sharing arrangement.

The document also sets forth concerns about media ownership for minorities and women.

Once again, a big mahalo goes to Angela Campbell and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University for all their help.