Recently by Marty Kaplan, Director, The Norman Lear Cente

Mike Copps, the heroic FCC Commissioner, often says, Whatever your number one issue is, make media reform your number two issue.  

I almost agree with him -- because without media reform (which includes Net Neutrality), it's way harder to do anything else you care about.

But another contender for that number two spot is campaign finance reform.  No wonder Larry Lessig turned from his work on the commons to the toxic impact of big money on Congress.  Without fixing that, the public's power to do anything is tragically circumscribed, and that public includes arts and culture workers, audiences and all the other people whose consent is supposed to be the constitutive principle of American government.

We're never going to be able to outspend or out-organize the oligarchs and lobbyists who grease the wheels.  And whatever storytelling gifts the cultural sector possesses, I see little chance of its displacing the narratives of paid media and "earned" media (i.e., Big Media), even in an age of producer-consumers, citizen-journalists and digital abundance.  

So here's to campaign finance reform, and the media reform that's entailed by it.  And here's to Doug for convening this rich, rich conversation.
July 23, 2010 10:12 AM | | Comments (0) |
Activism 101 emphasizes unity: it's hard to exert pressure if you're internally divided.  If arts and culture workers embrace the idea of a grand coalition in order to affect public policy, they'll of course need to figure out and endorse the positions that unite them.  Paradoxically, that may also require confronting the fissures, fault lines and flat-out disagreements they have -- not disagreements about broad goals, or tactics to get there, but rather about where their real interests actually lie.  For example, is the arts/culture community pretty much in agreement about fair use and public domain, or are there camps with significant (though sometimes unacknowledged and unarticulated) differences?  This isn't an apple of discord that I'm tossing.  I'm just wondering whether the power of a interest group depends in part on the muscle it acquires when its members wrestle with their disagreements.  
July 20, 2010 5:59 AM | | Comments (0) |
The Obama-appointed FCC chair has been working out the Administration's policy on net neutrality in closed-door meetings with Big Media lobbyists.  No public interest reps have a seat at the table.  Everyone in the room doles out millions in PAC money (and, thanks to the Roberts court, corporate political spending as well) to the all the players on the Hill.  This is what happens when, presumably, the good guys are in power.  How likely is it that arts and culture workers will have a real voice in policy deliberations, if their clout doesn't come down to cash?  Celebrity, moral suasion and stats about economic impact are nice assets to deploy, but does anyone think they provide the kind of access or standing enjoyed by the oligopolies?
July 18, 2010 8:45 PM | | Comments (0) |


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