Text of Report on Information Needs of Communities
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
June 9, 2011
David Fiske 202-418-0505
FCC WORKING GROUP DELIVERS NEW REPORT:
INFORMATION NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES
Delivers broad analysis & recommendations about the rapidly changing media landscape;
Major findings include enormous opportunities and broadband-fueled innovation;
Specific serious challenges exist, particularly around local accountability reporting
(Washington, D.C.) The FCC Working Group on the Information Needs of Communities
today delivered an in-depth analysis of the current state of the media landscape along with a
broad range of recommendations. The staff-level report, titled "Information Needs of
Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age" was delivered to the
FCC at an open commission meeting.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said,"The report's findings and recommendations
contain a strong and hopeful throughline: there has never been a more exciting time than this
broadband age to achieve our Founding Fathers' vision of a free democracy comprised of
informed and empowered citizens. As the report identifies and celebrates the potential of new
communications technologies, it also highlights important gaps that threaten to limit that
potential and harm communities."
Addressing the gap in reporting, Chairman Genachowski continued, "Foremost is the
disruptive impact the Internet has had on local news gathering. This is an emerging gap in local
news coverage that has not yet been fully filled by other media. And the less quality reporting
we have, the less likely we are to learn about government misdeeds."
The report was produced by a group of journalists, scholars, entrepreneurs and government
officials, led by
Steven Waldman, a successful digital media entrepreneur and former
Newsweek, U.S News & World Report and WallStreetJournal.com. He was also the co-
founder and CEO of Beliefnet.com, which won the National Magazine Award for General
Excellence Online and was later acquired by FOX Networks Group.
Key findings and recommendations include:
Fueled primarily by broadband-enabled innovation, the news and information landscapeis more vibrant than ever before. Digital technology is creating a world of opportunity to
keep the public informed in ways unimaginable just a few short years ago.
The disruptive impact of the Internet has enabled an unprecedented free exchange ofideas and information. Breakthroughs in hyperlocal news and citizen journalism are on the
rise, empowering individuals with a wealth of new information to better inform decision-
making and engender more accountable government.
There are nonetheless are serious gaps, including in local accountability reporting.These
deficits increase the likelihood of corruption, wasted tax dollars, worse schools and other
problems for communities.
Accelerate move from paper to online disclosure.Disclosure information required by the
FCC should be moved online from filing cabinets to the Internet so the public can more easily
gain access to valuable information. FCC should eliminate burdensome rules and replace the
current system with a streamlined web-based disclosures focused on providing information
about local programming.
Remove barriers to innovation and online entrepreneurshipby pushing for universal
broadband deployment and adoption. Achieving this goal would remove cost barriers,
strengthen online business models, expand consumer pools and ensure that the news and
information landscape serves communities to the maximum possible benefit of citizens.
Target existing federal spending at local media. Existing government advertising spending,
such military recruiting and public health ads, should be targeted toward local media whenever
possible. Each year, the federal government spends roughly $1 billion in advertising without
maximizing potential benefits to local media.
Over the course of a year, the group conducted more than 600 in-depth interviews, received
thousands of public comments, held several open workshops, examined thousands of pages of
existing research, and made numerous site visits to newsrooms across the country. The
working group's report will complement a Federal Trade Commission report expected to be
issued later this year, which will examine the profound transformation and new competitive
dynamics of the news business.
Dr. Frank Wright, President & CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters said, "In an
age where some have argued that the federal government has increased its reach over an
increasing number of private sectors of American life, this report is a refreshing change. It
refrains from imposing mandates, but instead recognizes opportunities to incentivize private
Susan Crawford, Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law said, "The FCC has
given the country a clear-eyed, hard-hitting, thoroughly-researched assessment of the profound
economic problems undermining the institution of the press in America. The Commission has
also clearly identified the crucial roles to be played by the nonprofit section including
foundations and technology in supporting the civic function of the press in the future."
Dean Nicholas Lemann, on behalf of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of
Journalism Education deans said
undertaking the ambitious study on the information needs of communities. We should not let
the laudable proliferation of freely available information generated by the digital revolution
blind us to the surpassing importance of original reporting by journalists. In producing this
report, the FCC was responding to a real, pressing need."
Responding to the report,
David Barrett, President & CEO of Hearst Television, said, "We
appreciate that the report suggests moving away from outdated reporting rules. We are open
minded about the new proposals, especially given the productive process by which the report
arrived at its conclusions, and will consider them carefully."
"Of the areas considered by the Knight Commission, our nation has made progress in universal
broadband access but is still not doing what it could on local accountability journalism,
government transparency, digital and media literacy, public media innovation and the
revitalization of public libraries," said Alberto Ibargen, President of Knight Foundation
"We're hopeful that the FCC's report will move us from debate to action."
For more information about the Information Needs of Communities report, visit:www.fcc.gov/infoneedsreport