Damian Radcliffe
Published in

Damian Radcliffe

Emerging Issues and Fresh Ideas for Media Policy and Local Journalism

New approaches for funding, access and the structure of sustainable local journalism in the USA

Local news is a serious business, as seen in this screenshot from a webinar hosted by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University on 20th January 2022.

“What role can (and should) media policy play in supporting a strong, sustainable, vibrant local media sector in the United States?”

That’s a question that I’ve been exploring through a five-part webinar series, supported by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, and designed to introduce and debate the best ways for media policy to support local journalism in the USA.

Our most recent event dived into issues of funding, digital access to journalism and information and the emergence of a non-profit news sector.

Here’s a video — and audio-only — recording of the event.

More detailed bios of our expert panelists — Jessica J. González, Co-CEO, Free Press; Sue Cross, Executive Director and CEO at Institute for Nonprofit News and Dr. Christopher Ali, Associate Professor, University of Virginia, Knight News Innovation Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University — can be found below.

Moderator: Damian Radcliffe

Panelists

Jessica González, Co-CEO, Free Press

An attorney and racial-justice advocate, Jessica advances Free Press’ mission of building media and technology that serve truth and justice. A former Lifeline recipient, Jessica has helped fend off grave Trump-administration cuts to the program, which subsidizes phone-and-internet access for low-income people. She was part of the legal team that overturned a Trump-FCC decision blessing runaway media consolidation.

Jessica is a leader in the fight to push tech companies to crack down on hate and disinformation. She co-founded Change the Terms, a coalition of more than 60 civil- and digital-rights groups that works to disrupt online hate, helped lead the Stop Hate for Profit campaign’s Facebook advertising boycott and sits on the Real Facebook Oversight Board.

Previously, Jessica was the executive vice president and general counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, where she led the policy shop and coordinated campaigns against racist and xenophobic media programming. Prior to that she was a staff attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation. Jessica has testified before Congress on multiple occasions on issues including Net Neutrality, media-ownership diversity and affordable internet access.

Sue Cross, Executive Director and CEO at Institute for Nonprofit News

Sue Cross leads the Institute for Nonprofit News, a network of more than 350 independent, nonprofit news organizations in North America. She joined INN in 2015 to build its emerging news network and advance social enterprise models for investigative and other public service journalism.

Sue is a former senior vice president for the Associated Press global news agency, where she created digital news services, expanded Spanish language and Latin American operations, introduced video to more than a thousand online news sites and managed a national news cooperative.

Chris Ali, Associate Professor, University of Virginia, Knight News Innovation Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University

Dr. Christopher Ali is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, and a Fellow of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. He joined the Department in the fall of 2013 after completing his PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include: communication policy and regulation, rural broadband, critical political economy, critical geography, comparative media systems, media localism, and local news.

Christopher’s current research focuses on broadband policy and deployment in the United States, specifically in rural areas. His latest book, Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity (MIT Press, 2021), examines the complicated terrain of rural broadband policy in the US. Farm Fresh unpacks the politics of broadband policy, asking why millions of rural Americans lack broadband access and why the federal government, and large providers, are not doing more to connect the unconnected.

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