UNC Media Law Center Workshop to Examine FCC Report, Recommend Policies to Increase Watchdog Journalism

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The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will convene media scholars, professionals, attorneys and community leaders for a Jan. 20 workshop to examine how Internet, cable and satellite television, and mobile broadband service providers could help promote local accountability journalism in North Carolina and the nation.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is underwriting the effort with a $20,000 grant to the media law center, a partnership between the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the UNC School of Law.

The workshop comes in response to the 2011 Federal Communications Commission “Information Needs of Communities” report that identified the loss of newsroom positions in recent years as a threat to the quality of civic information available in communities around the nation. Steve Waldman, who authored the FCC report, will participate in the workshop.

The report documents the effects of the digital revolution on local, professional, accountability reporting. One effect has been the loss of 13,400 newspaper newsroom positions in four years. The report argues that the loss of those workers is likely to result in government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools and other serious community problems. The Jan. 20 workshop will search for ways to increase the amount of accountability journalism being done in local communities.

Roundtable discussions at the workshop will identify the gaps in accountability journalism in North Carolina, the causes of the gaps and the opportunities they present. Representatives of Internet, cable television, satellite television and mobile broadband service providers and others will discuss whether and how service providers could help to fill those gaps. The group will then synthesize the findings and discussions into a set of policy recommendations.

The workshop is part of a series of symposia to explore issues in the FCC report. The symposia are a product of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. The Carnegie-Knight schools are a dozen of the top programs in the country, including the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. With funding from Carnegie Corp. of New York and Knight Foundation, the schools have been engaged in a multi-year program to adapt journalism education to the challenges of a struggling news industry.

A final report generated from the UNC workshop will be incorporated into a set of recommendations to be issued jointly by the participating Carnegie-Knight deans.

About the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy

The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is a forum for study and debate about the important media law and policy issues facing North Carolina and the nation. The center’s goal is to enhance the discussion of media law and policy issues by bringing together people who represent a diversity of informed views. For more, visit medialaw.unc.edu.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.

UNC Center for Media Law and Policy contact: Kyle York, sky@unc.edu, 919.966.3323

-January 19, 2012

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