Media Alliance Blog

Become a Media Maven: Join The Monthly Sustainers Circle

Posted by on December 22nd, 2015

Communication rights, and especially local and regional work to cement them at home, often gets overlooked, but it is key to so many struggles for health, safety, and freedom.

MA has been here for 38 years, always on one kind of edge or another, and we want there to be a year 39. Please join us.

How do we protect the right to dissent? Crackdowns on journalists, whistleblowers and activists are legion as a toxic combination of greedy telecoms and an unaccountable government try to plug every remaining space for free expression and organizing. They won't rest until the Internet is a toll road for big spenders, and a spy net for the rest of us.

Media Alliance has been carving the space for truth-telling for 38 years. And protecting that space when it is under attack, here in the Bay Area, and all across the country. So many times we are the only, or one of a precious few, voices at one or another public meeting where our freedoms are slowly pushed back, one step at a time.

But the corporations that run the government won’t help dismantle their own influence. The system that lulls us into complacency as our human rights get whittled away wants us doing busy work, not challenging them. Keeping the challenges going, steady and strong and right here at home in California where we live and work together, that can only be supported by you. Media Alliance will keep lighting the fire. With your help.

The arc of justice is realized by claiming the space to create alternate narratives.

We've got some great gifts for you, a 30% discount off the mind-bending titles from MIT Press, including Low Power To The People, the chronicle of the pirate radio movement. Local filmmaker Donna Lee's video story of blogger Josh Wolf's 226 day stay in federal prison to protect his videos, a crucial moment in the history of citizen journalism and Chinook Book, a modern-day coupon book featuring discounts and gifts at local sustainable Bay Area businesses to help you really buy local.

We know money is tight and so many worthwhile causes are asking you for $100 right now. So make it easy. Join the sustainers circle for $5 or $10 a month, and donate a cappucino or two to media justice every month.

Most importantly, you’ll know that you personally did something to reclaim the space to tell the truth here in California.

The truth will set us free. Nothing else can.

PDA Forum: Fighting Back: How Bay Area Activists Are Defending Our Civil Liberties

Posted by on November 13th, 2015

Our freedoms are being threatened more than at any time since the McCarthy period of the fifties.  Not just by the antics of politicians, but directly in our living space: Massive surveillance with the latest technology; the militarization of the police; online monitoring of our messages; the unrestrained killing of African-American and other minority people; media self-censorship.

As always, resistance and opposition are coming from activists on the ground. This is especially true in the Bay Area. At this month's forum, activists will tell us what they are doing to fight back against the incipient police state.


Shahid Buttar, Director of Grassroots Advocacy, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),

Tessa D'arcangelew, Leadership Development Manager at the ACLU of Northern California: 

Zaki Manian, San Francisco Organizer, Restore the Fourth

Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance


Thursday, November 19 • 7:00 P.M. 

St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church

2097 Turk St. (at Lyon), San Francisco 

Practicing Communication Rights: Honduras and South Korea

Posted by Dorothy Kidd on
University of San Francisco

This brief academic paper by USF Media Studies Professor and former MA board member Dorothy Kidd examines democratized media in Honduras and South Korea. 

"Some 30 years after the commission’s publication of Many Voices, One
World, I analyze the contribution of contemporary grassroots communication
praxis to the democratization of communications practice and theory.
Because if the neoliberal shift captured global information and communication
systems for corporate giants and state powers, it also created
conditions of radical possibility. Media activists around the world have
appropriated technologies that were first designed for military, state and
capitalist apparatuses, and have reshaped them to meet urgent information
and communication needs of majority populations underserved by commercial
or public service media. As the MacBride Report promised, these media
have provided living examples of more democratic communication.

The Honduran Network of Indigenous and Garífuna Radios, andMediACT
in South Korea, exemplify this movement to democratize communications
from within social justice movements. South Korea is a relatively wealthy,
urban and industrialized country, and one of the most digitally connected
nations in the world; whereas Honduras is primarily rural, with high rates
of poverty, and where only 4.5 percent of Hondurans have regular access
to the internet. Nevertheless, people in both countries share long struggles
for democratization against colonialism and military rule, and more recent
pressures to conform to neoliberal development agendas. Operating in very
different national contexts, the Honduran Radio Network and MediACT are
both deeply embedded within local centers, linked together through a complex
web of global social justice movements and radical communicators,
who are connected both face to face and online.

Read more ...

Towards Public Broadband - SF Civic Makers Salon

Posted by on
Civic Makers

If you missed the October 8th Civicmakers Salon on public broadband in San Francisco, here's a recap:


Last Thursday civic tech enthusiasts, local government representatives and telecommunications industry professionals gathered together to discuss what the future of public broadband in San Francisco looks like. This was third event CivicMakers has hosted on the issue, and momentum is building, as evidenced from a standing room only crowd at the event.

A decade after the city’s first initiative to bring free city-wide wi-fi to its citizens the lack of public broadband is again a hot topic and there is growing consensus that we need to find a solution. As we learned, there is no question about the necessity of making internet accessible to all however finding the right approach is a bit more complicated. The question is as much about technology as it is about people, access, and fairness.

Our emcee and CivicMakers co-founder, Brian Purchia set the tone for the evening, “We are going to solve this problem — it will happen. What is it going to take? And who is responsible for making this so? That’s what tonight’s event is about.”

The Chairman and CEO of Orange, Stéphane Richard, started the discussion by sharing some examples from France. He pointed that while Europeans are constantly learning from the Silicon Valley, there are a few things that work well in Europe that San Francisco could learn. One such example is offering fiber optic cable at a price that makes it truly accessible to all.

There was a general agreement about the importance of fast internet not only for a more connected city, but for deeper economic implications. Today, over 100,000 people in San Francisco don’t have access to internet at all while 50,000 are using dial-up connection. In today’s connected world a digital divide like that equals economic disadvantage.

CPUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval noted that availability of broadband speed internet will become a crucial part of urban competitiveness of cities, just like rent. She highlighted the need to learn more about people who do not have access so the government could best help them. As California brings Internet to under-served and un-served areas of California classifying certain urban areas as such might be a part of the solution.

San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell emphasized that internet is a necessity, not a privilege, and as such a basic economic right. There is a very real digital divide that exists in San Francisco that the city is trying to solve. The report that is due to come out soon will address potential solutions for the problem and it is important to act on it soon as possible since the need for it won’t go away. New proposed legislation includes solutions such as mandating that construction projects lay a public conduit line for future access when they lay down fiber.

Jay Nath, the Chief Innovation Officer at the City of San Francisco reviewed some public broadband benefits and challenges. On the one hand there are things like universal access, bridging the digital divide, and the economic and educational opportunities associated with it, which are all positive. On the other hand the city needs to take into consideration some challenges, most notably the scale of public investment, the fact that while it has been done in many small cities few bigger ones have implemented it, and predatory incumbent practices.

During the panel discussion we heard many interesting perspectives on different issues related to making universally accessible public broadband a reality. Three key takeaways from the panel were that the public broadband access is a political issue, that access is critical on multiple issues, and that there is big infrastructure involved that will have impact of both privacy as well as the role of government in communications.

This is a problem that is going to be solved. There is a growing chorus of CivicMakers that want to help make it so, including in that is our extensive list of co-sponsors for the event, Startup Policy Lab, Mozilla, Free Press.net, The Greenling Institute, Demand Progress, Media Alliance, Engine, EFF, Internet Archive, Zero Divide, and the Community Technology Network. We will keep you posted with updates and share the City Hall report when it is released. Stay tuned!

Everett C. Parker Dies at 102

Posted by Robert MacFadden on
NY Times

Parker, who founded and directed the Communications office at the United Church of Christ, won a historic lawsuit causing the first ever broadcasting license to be removed for failure to serve the public interest and continued to advocate for unbiased broadcasting for decades following. His NY Times obituary is below. 

Rest in power, Reverend Parker. You set an example for us all.


The Rev. Everett C. Parker, who won a landmark broadcasting case and led a civil rights crusade to hold television and radio stations accountable for presenting racially biased programming and for failing to hire blacks and other minorities, died on Thursday in White Plains. He was 102.

His death was announced by the United Church of Christ, where he was the founder and longtime director of its Office of Communications. With church support, he used the office as his civil rights platform for 30 years.

In a nation with a history of racial discrimination, it was not unusual decades ago for minorities to be ignored or to have their dignity trampled on radio and television. Station executives, under no pressure from federal regulators, gave little thought to segregated shows or on-the-air slurs, let alone to minority hiring.

But as the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1960s, Dr. Parker, a minister and director of communications for the socially conscious, 1.75-million-member United Church of Christ, began to survey the performances of radio and television stations in the South. He identified WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., as a flagrant purveyor of racist programming.

While blacks made up 43 percent of the viewing audience, he found, the station did not cover civil rights news or the black community and often referred to blacks pejoratively on the air. Typically the only blacks shown on WLBT were in police custody. Dr. Parker, who had worked in broadcasting, asked the National Association of Broadcasters to issue guidelines to give blacks a more positive presence on television, but the industry group refused.

On behalf of his church and some viewers, he petitioned the Federal Communications Commission in 1964 to deny WLBT a license renewal for failing to serve the public interest, as required by law. The F.C.C. conceded the facts but dismissed the petition, saying the church, and even viewers, had no standing to challenge the license. Only broadcasters or others with an “economic” interest had such standing, the commission said.

“I thought that through,” Dr. Parker recalled years later, “and concluded that the public did have ‘standing,’ and an economic interest, because they owned radios and television sets.”

An appeal was filed, and in 1966, Warren E. Burger, then a federal appellate judge, recognized the right of the church and viewers to petition the F.C.C. But after a hearing, the commission renewed the station’s license, leading to another appeal. In 1969, Judge Burger, soon to be chief justice of the United States, ruled that the F.C.C.’s record in the case was “beyond repair” and ordered WLBT’s license revoked.

“After nearly five decades of operation,” Judge Burger wrote, “the broadcast industry does not seem to have grasped the simple fact that a broadcast license is a public trust subject to termination for breach of duty.”

The decision marked the first time that a license had been lifted for a station’s failure to serve the public interest, and it established the right of ordinary citizens to challenge a license. It began a new era of heightened sensitivity by the F.C.C. and broadcasters to communities and minorities.

Armed with the power to threaten licenses, Dr. Parker, in the 1970s and ’80s, joined other religious and civic groups — the Citizens’ Communications Center, the Media Access Project and Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen organization, among others — in challenging television and radio stations on broadcast content and other issues, including employment discrimination.

After another petition by Dr. Parker showing that minorities were underrepresented in the industry, the F.C.C. issued rules banning unfair employment practices by broadcasters. But Dr. Parker found that informal meetings with station executives, rather than federal complaints, often led to reforms in hiring and content.

Dr. Parker recruited volunteers in many cities to monitor broadcasters’ programs and hiring practices. He widened his campaign to include network, cable and telecommunications policies; set up programs to train minority broadcasters; produced documentaries and children’s programs, wrote several books, and lectured at Fordham University in the Bronx. He became known as the dean of civil rights reforms in broadcasting.

“All we’ve ever wanted to do is make it possible for people to express themselves through the system of broadcasting,” he told The New York Times when he retired in 1983. “If broadcasters are to serve the public interest, they need to be reminded that they serve all the publics.”

Everett Carlton Parker was born on Jan. 17, 1913, in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1935, joined the Depression-era Works Progress Administration in Washington as a radio producer, and in 1936-37 was the station manager of WJBW in New Orleans. In 1938, he opened an advertising agency in Chicago, but gave it up a year later to train for the ministry. In 1939 he married the former Geneva Jones. She died in 2004.

Dr. Parker is survived by his daughters, Ruth Weiss and Eunice Kolczun; a son, the Rev. Truman E. Parker; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Dr. Parker earned his doctorate in 1943 from the Chicago Theological Seminary. He worked for NBC in New York as a war program manager, and from 1945 to 1957 taught communications at Yale Divinity School. In 1954, he created a public relations office for the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, which became the United Church of Christ in a 1957 merger.

Asked in 2012 by the website Broadband & Social Justice how he would like to be remembered, Dr. Parker said, “I want them to remember that I was a guy who fought like the devil for the rights of minorities.”

The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a former executive director of the Office of Communications, suggested in a statement that Dr. Parker’s legacy would be far broader.

“Everett’s lifelong clarity and insistence that ethics, accessibility, diversity and social justice are central to, not peripheral to, a fair and effective media forever changed the landscape of broadcast journalism in this country,” he was quoted as saying on the church’s website on Friday. “By challenging previously unchallenged assumptions about media ownership and access, he altered the course of U.S. media history and skewed it toward fuller inclusion for all people. His remarkable courage and tenacity will be forever remembered by history.”

American Day Dream

Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on
Media Alliance

A Review of American Daydream by Margot Eve Pepper

American Day Dream is situated in San Francisco and embedded in the things we love about the Bay Area, but also lodged in the rear corner of our minds that hasn't forgotten the Snowden revelations of June 2013. Or Cointelpro. Or every bit of sickening evidence that we are less free than we think.

In the long tradition of dystopian science fiction, but imbued with a humane and strongly feminist tilt, American Day Dream grabs hold of the red pill/blue pill dilemma of Hollywood's Matrix, but without all the futuristic shiny toys.

What if, right here and right now and right down the block, everything we see and do and own, isn't real? Job, home and friends are all a carefully planted illusion to keep us circling a hamster wheel for a social order running for the benefit of others.

In American Day Dream, the gadgets we love don't connect us to humanity. They are the tool that traps us into dreams and prevents us from seeing our own imprisonment. 

The novel addresses the price of looking up from the screen into the void. What would you say to the person who tells you reality isn't real?  Would you love them or hate them, or both at the same time?

The protagonist, a Marin-residing graphic designer with a seemingly cushy job at a biotech firm in downtown SF, temporarily breaks his circuits and faces a dilemma: remember that crack in the fabric of appearances or forget it as quickly as he can.

As he walks the road to choosing frightening reality or comforting dream world,  the designer ponders who he used to be before his cushy condo, how friends, family and acquaintances reconcile their own illusions and what life might be like outside the penal colony.

And he meets a woman.

American Day Dream asks us to consider the joys, and the dangers, of authentic existence when the human experience isn't what we thought it was. When the price of the little compromises is more expensive than we ever imagined and everything we thought was true about life, really wasn't.

There is still a choice to be made in the world of American Day Dream, but time is running out on the dreamers. Jailbreaking isn't just for i-phones. It's for all of us before there is nothing left but pretty trappings on top of a penal colony.

In a society where we are being watched more than we can fully grasp, the distance between American Day Dream's Bay Area and our own is shrinking.

It's a small step between dawn to dusk surveillance and planting us in a customized-just-for-us existence to meet all of our needs as incarcerated worker bees.

American Day Dream makes that leap and then paints the picture of what the hesitant walk along the road of resistance might look like - without the superpowers of Neo - for just a guy and a girl in Northern California.

Anti-Abortion Hackers Target Progressive ISP MayFirst/PeopleLink

Posted by Alfredo Lopez on August 4th, 2015

Attackers continued their assault on May First/People Link operations Monday evening shutting down the organization's website at https://mayfirst.org. All other services continue operating.

The Denial of Service attack targeted the website but, as collateral damage, much of May First's hosting system was paralyzed for a short time about 11:00 pm Monday evening. May First technologists restored all services except May First's own website, the specific target, by 11:30 pm.

The attack follows several days of Denial of Service attacks on May First servers, targeting specifically May First member the National Network of Abortion Funds whose website, http://fundabortionnow.org was down for almost a day last week. That attack appears to have been part of the campaign aimed at the pro-choice movement which included the attacks last week on Planned Parenthood and various pro-choice websites.

Today's action is the first time the attackers have targeted the May First/People Link website specifically.

"We consider our organization attacked when one of our members is targeted so we've been under attack for several days now," according of Jamie McClelland, MF/PL Leadership Committee member. "But the targeting of our website means that these people are not just focusing on the issue of abortion or trying to repress communication about it but punishing an organization that allows that communication. This isn't about choice specifically, this is about May First/People Link and, because of who we are, it's about an entire movement in two countries."

Technologists continue working to return the website to service. No other services are affected at this time.

May First/People Link is a political progressive membership organization specializing in Internet work and the sharing of services with most members in the United States and Mexico. It is the largest organization of its kind in either country.

An Overview of the Open Internet Order

Posted by NANOG on July 28th, 2015
North American Network Operators Group

A 45-minute video describing the historic February 26th Open Internet Order (the net neutrality rules). 

From NANOG (The North American Network Operators Group) 

It's Time for Consumer-Driven Pricing Policies in Cable and Broadband

Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on July 28th, 2015
Media Alliance

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a request for comments on how consumers are being charged for video-related services, the notice they are given before these costs appear on their monthly cable bill and whether these fees cause consumers to pay higher prices than the company’s advertised rates for monthly service. The FCC has always had jurisdiction over how common carriers, broadcast, wireless, satellite, cable companies and other telecom entities address consumer interests in their business practices.

According to the FCC website, through the Consumer Policy division, they are “…tasked with issuing orders to resolve complaints about unauthorized changes in local telecommunication providers (slamming); conducting rulemakings on slamming, truth-in-billing telemarketing and fax advertising; and monitoring informal inquiries and complaints to identify trends that affect consumers.” Unfortunately, many advocates believe that the focus on consumers has been sidelined since the passage of The 1996 Telecommunications Act. While the act spurred innovative platforms for video distribution and creative content for internet users, it was to the detriment of cable subscribers who realized no real benefits, and instead have experienced nearly two decades of limited choices for service, rising monthly prices and deteriorating customer service. With consolidation happening at a breakneck speed in the cable and broadband markets, it is time that the focus of our 21st century video market policy-making process be placed squarely on the protection of the consumer.

For this reason, Media Alliance applauds the FCC’s undertaking to augment their next video competition report with detailed pricing data and information through their comment process. We have long advocated for increased transparency when it comes to the billing practices of pay-TV and broadband providers and are further encouraged that the FCC’s action is not an isolated incident.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are increasingly losing their patience with the unscrupulous practices of the pay-TV industry and are calling for inquiries with the interest of consumers in mind.  Last year, Senator McCaskill asked probing questions of cable providers who experienced first-hand how cable operators have overcharged and misled consumers with complicated fee structures and surcharges. Time and time again, McCaskill has sought to bring accountability to the pay-TV industry by calling for legislative hearings around cable billing practices.

The momentum continued with a letter on July 9 from Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calling for the FCC to collect detailed pricing data on broadband and cable services on a state-by-state basis and comparatively in rural versus urban areas. Their letter also recognizes the lack of competition in the pay-TV industry citing that fact that only “37 percent of Americans have more than one option for high-speed broadband providers.” The senators declared that a lack of competitive choices and a marketplace that continues to move toward more consolidation has left Americans with “de facto telecommunications monopolies” across the nation. These are factors that need to be addressed at a granular level by federal regulators.

The FCC’s action to collect broadband and pay-TV pricing data will go a long way in helping consumers better understand exactly what it is they are paying for in their monthly bills. The pay-TV companies have this information. We simply need our leaders in Washington D.C. to ask the right questions so that regulators can then deconstruct the fees, surcharges, equipment rentals and other miscellaneous costs.

Thanks to leaders in the nation’s capital, we are taking the first step towards creating greater pricing and billing transparency for consumers of pay-TV and/or Internet subscription services in America.

2015 Northern California Press List Out!

Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on July 22nd, 2015
Media Alliance

The Media Alliance 2015 Northern California Press List is out!

The 2015 Northern California Press List provides 1200+ media contacts in an easy-to-manipulate Excel spreadsheet, including daily/weekly newspapers, televison and radio stations, hyperlocal news websites, and selected national alternative press.

Use this link to pick up your copy.

Media Alliance produces this community press list to help nonprofits and activists reach the media consistently without having to pay the prohibitive prices charged by commercial public relations efforts.

Pair your press list with a Media How To Guide, if you haven't already, to get everything you need to know for low-cost high-impact guerilla publicity.

The press list retails for $50 (discounted for MA members) so make sure to let people know about it who could benefit from the resource.

We're Moving!

Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on July 4th, 2015

MA is pleased to announce that we'll be returning to San Francisco in May of 2015, joining the new artistic community at the Pacific Felt Factory in San Francisco's Mission District.

First the details: Our new address as of May 4, 2015 will be: 2830 20th Street, Suite 102  San Francisco CA 94110

Our building has entrances both on 20th Street and on 19th Street at the corner of Bryant behind the gate that would be at 2751 19th Street.

Follow this link for pics of the new office in development.

Our new telephone number as of May 4, 2015 will be (415) 746-9475. ED Tracy Rosenberg can also be reached directly via mobile phone at 510-684-6853, which is unchanged.

The good news: The new space will provide the classroom, workshop and event space that Media Alliance has been missing in Oakland, contained within a new vibrant art space with lots of cross-fertilization and fun, creative things going on.

Being a part of the community will allow us to permanently lower our rent while increasing our physical capacity in a long-term secure space dedicated to art and social justice, freeing us from the commercial real estate market and the exploding costs in our adopted Oakland home.

It was a difficult decision to leave Oakland, a city MA has grown to love after the forced exodus from San Francisco in 2005, but the long-term security and stability of the nonprofit in today's always-challenging financial conditions was our first priority. Media Alliance intends to continue robust participation in public policy throughout the Bay Area, but especially on both sides of the Bay, which are both our professional and personal homes.

There will be a little moving upheaval during the last week of April and first week of May, but bear with us and we'll do our best to be fully up and running as quickly as possible.

 And stay tuned for classes and events. We've heard you these past few years about wanting more of that, and this new office is designed with more public events and workshops in mind.

Thank you for your support and sharing the excitement of this move with us. Any helping hands in the last week of April for the schlepping of boxes are very very welcome.

 Towards peace and justice (and San Francisco)


Cable Competition Vetoed at FCC

Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on June 5th, 2015
Media Alliance

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dealt a blow to cable regulation when Chair Tom Wheeler declined to join democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel in dropping the presumption of effective cable competition in most cities and counties.

The presumption means that the burden of proof to assert that cable competition is insufficient falls on city and state governments who must mount a case to prove their point. Failing a monumental effort on their part, federal regulators will presume that effective cable competition exists. 

Clyburn and Rosenworcel argued that "streamlining" should not take the form of an expedited process to avoid oversight and accused the agency of racing past the statutory requirements and providing such broad relief to cable companies as to increase burdens on local franchising authorities and potentially result in price increases for consumers.

However, FCC chair Tom Wheeler voted in favor of the presumption and it passed the commission on a 3-2 vote.

Media Alliance agrees with Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel and hails them for their attempts to preserve oversight by franchising authorities and not streamline away local cable regulation.

Below is the public interest letter sent by several organizations including MA asking the FCC not to presume effective cable competition.

Kick The Kickbacks Video

Posted by Champaign Urbana IMC on May 27th, 2015
Illinois Campaign for Phone Justice

This video produced by the Champaign-Urbana Independent Media Center and the Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice exposes the actions of phone service provider Securus Technologies and the Illinois Department of Corrections in gouging nearly $12 million a year from the families of the incarcerated from over-priced phone call.

Sign the petition to encourage the FCC to finish reforming the prison phone call system and cap phone rates for all kinds of phone calls for good. 

Make Cable Prove There Is Competition

Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on May 7th, 2015
Media Alliance

FCC filings can be dry: but what it comes down to is whether cable companies have to prove there is effective competition or whether communities have to prove there isn't. 

 We believe the burden of proof should be on the big cable companies, not local towns and cities with less resources and less to gain from a big federal fight.

Here's our note to the FCC, joined by the Greenlining Institute, to say the burden of proof belong with Big Cable.

Talking About Media Concentration

Posted by Kellia Ramares on

This 30 minute interview was recorded and produced by Kellia Ramares and will eventually be part of an article for Alternet looking at the impact of monopolies of many kinds on the democratic deficit. 

The impacts of media concentration on freedom of expression, implied and absolute censorship and information economics in a wideranging discussion with MA Ed Tracy Rosenberg. 

Fact Sheet on California Impacts of the Comcast-Time Warner Merger

Posted by Caifornia Coalition to Stop The Comcast Monopoly on April 18th, 2015

This fact sheet was prepared by the California Coalition to Stop the Comcast Monopoly (Writers Guild West, Media Alliance, Consumers Union, The Greenlining Institute, TURN and Common Cause). 

It stresses the California-specific impacts of the proposed merger on the state, which is one of the most heavily affected states in the nation.

Blog: Interview with Natalie Lawhead

Posted by Kevin Robinson on April 17th, 2015
Medium Rare TV

Nathalie Lawhead is the creator of Tetrageddon Games, an open source freeware arcade.  Having just coming off her Nuovo Award winning turn at the 2015 Game Developers Conference, Nathalie spoke with Kevin Robinson about her site, being an award winning game developer, and working in the gaming industry.


Kevin Robinson:  How have things been since your Nuovo Award at GDC, has anything changed?

Nathalie Lawhead:  I would say a lot more confidence in what I’m doing.  I’m still kind of blown away about that, I did not expect that.  Just being a finalist was huge. Winning was amazing.  For anybody creative, confidence in what you’re doing and the risk of starting your own business is the biggest battle, so that was a really big deal for me.


KR:  Tell us about Tetrageddon Games

NL:  It’s focused on the humor and satire of online life, kind of like a parody of digital reality.  I like to say it’s like if Monty Python made games.  It’s completely random and absurd.  The game is constantly changing is the theme.

KR:  How long have you been involved in gaming and what got you started?

NL:  I first started out as a net artist and people liked what I was doing and they started calling what I was doing “games”. At first I hated the title because it brought in all kinds of assumptions from people playing it; “What am I supposed to do?”, “What is this?”, “This game makes no sense”.

KR:  Do you think people have preconceived notions of what a game is?

NL:  I think they used to have more conservative views.  A game had to give you a mission, you had to have a goal, you had to be asked to do certain things.  Now there’s even a term called “alt games”.  It’s so cool that people are willing to create new labels. Games are transitioning to be seen as art.

KR:  Did you play video games as a child?

NL:  I did play DOS games alot, early PC games.  Chopper Commandos, Doom, Quake 2, I was into first person shooters.  My fondest memories was playing the early DOS games where you played on the actual floppy disc.  I loved that.

KR:  Where’d the name AlienMelon, as you are also known as, come from?

NL:   I started doing web development and I choose a name that started with an A, because when you look up directories that’s what comes up first and also I like calling myself an alien.  I like alien invasion and end of the world scenarios so it kind of made sense.

KR:  You’re a post-apocalyptic sci-fi fan.  What are some of you favorite films in that genre?

NL:  I like the one that Tim Burton made, Mars Attacks!

KR:  On other note, you being a woman in the industry, what’s that like?  Have you thought about that or not?

NL:  It’s something you can’t ignore.  You do encounter a lot of sexism, but I think less than ever now.  People are willing to speak up and you have men supporting women too and that makes a massive difference.  I remember there was a site called Flash Goddess that got a lot of very sexist replies and that’s when I first started thinking there’s a real problem in our culture.  For better or for worse with this whole Gamergate thing it brought the attention and people are willing to engage in this conversation and start making changes.

KR:  Did you feel comfortable and supported at GDC?

NL:  Yea, it’s interesting when I was working in the game industry I got a lot of sexism, but with the indie community I haven’t encountered any of that.  The fact that I’m a woman isn’t even brought up unless it’s in a positive light.

KR:  Any advice that you would give to any upcoming female game designers or developers?

NL:  Your first game probably won’t be any good and it doesn’t even have to be playable, just start doing it.  It’s like a muscle you exercise and you become better and better as you go.

KR:  What’s next on the horizon for you?

NL:  I got an opportunity to put it on Steam now, so I’m working on getting a Steam version out there. I think that’s going to be a really big deal for me. I’m also trying to get it on Playstation.

You can play Nathalie’s game for free.  Go to www.tetrageddongame.com

Blog: Priority problems: Journalism’s position in the charitable-giving ecosystem

Posted by Josh Wilson on April 17th, 2015
Watershed Media

A blog from Watershed Media on the question of whether nonprofit journalism will ever be funded.


Amidst the news industry’s many challenges, and the hopeful flowering of a new nonprofit-news movement, the low position of public-interest news reporting in the charitable ecosystem is a troubling puzzle.

Most of all it speaks poorly of our cultural and democratic priorities. Billions are spent on media that sell and influence, producing messages that serve vested political and commercial interests — yet the room clears out fast when the conversation turns to the topic of paying for public-interest journalism.

Indeed, for all the declamations and examinations of journalism’s importance to our democracy, actually funding its noncommercial, public-interest practice is one of the lowest priorities of the charitable sector — inclusive of major and individual philanthropy.

Priority disconnect

This lack of subsidy has crippled public-interest journalism, which is not competitive in the commercial attention economy, and not easily or ethically monetized, particularly at the local level.

The good news is that such harsh conditions have produced a tough strain of nonprofit survivors. These organizations — members, for example, of the Media Consortium or the Institute for Nonprofit News — are drought tolerant. They take root in niches and keep blooming.

In organizational terms, they’re high-achieving, efficient, networked and media savvy. Their potential as engines of public-interest information is off the charts.

Yet the opportunity and mission they represent has not yet been fully recognized and embraced across the spectrum of philanthropy.

The sap may be rising for the new crop of news nonprofits — but a garden will not grow unless you water it.

In today’s parsimonious funding economy, that means infrastructure for new news nonprofits is rudimentary, newsrooms operate on shoestring budgets, founders heroically take on operations as well as editorial roles, and their ventures only thrive relative to their ability to sacrifice and work for free.

Their dedication is beyond question, as is the lack of support. Let’s look at the numbers for a better sense of journalism’s low position in the current funding ecosystem.

Journalism as a subset of media funding

Up-to-date numbers for journalism philanthropy are elusive. A good benchmark comes via a Foundation Center report that tracked $1.86 billion in grants of $10,000 or more to “media” projects of all sorts in the United States from 2009 and 2011.

That alone, however, did not necessarily add up to more money for news production.

Of that sum, 55 percent — about $1.02 billion — went to developing “media platforms” across the Internet, broadcast, film and video, TV, mobile, etc.

Actual journalism production (and training) received about half that — $527 million, accounting for 22 percent of all media grantmaking during the three-year period under scrutiny.

Journalism’s position in the individual-giving spectrum

Individual Americans gave $335.17 billion to charity in 2013, according to Giving USA, the majority of which went to religious organizations ($105.3 billion) followed by education ($52.07 billion) and human services ($41.51 billion).

In fact, Journalism itself doesn’t come up as a category, at least in the public summary of the report.

The nearest you get is arts, culture, and humanities — all noncommercial arenas of discourse, narrative, study and exchange — with an estimated $16.66 billion in giving in 2013.

For perspective, that’s a bit more than 30 times in one year what nonprofit journalism was given over three years.

Profits, politics and influence money

The forthcoming 2016 elections, with billions of influence dollars lining up for media prime time, reframe journalism’s funding struggles in the context of a full-blown ecosystem crisis.

One projection expects election-ad spending to hit $12 billion next year — a tide of influence messages choking media channels like an offshore toxic-algae bloom fed by unregulated fertilizer runoff.

That $12 billion in influence funding is a bit more than 22 times the $527 million in charitable funds invested in journalism and media from 2009 to 2011.

It will also make up a handsome 18.4 percent of the estimated $65 billion in revenue the U.S. news industry as a whole is expected to earn in 2016.

Mass media are are handily adapting to the information economy and developing all sorts of marketing and revenue streams. The philanthropic sector remains enormously wealthy. And individual giving remains a deep and largely untapped wellspring.

Yet nonprofit journalism — and specifically public-interest news production in communities that lack it — remains a neglected, and even unrecognized, priority.

Where is the imagination, the conscience, the commitment and the will to strengthen this emerging, and desperately needed, charitable sector?

Private Thoughts: On Fusion Centers, UASI and Fed/State Privacy Legislation

Posted by Bay Area Restore The Fourth on
Meredith Sward

Private Thoughts is a new privacy series of short videos on surveillance and privacy from Restore the Fourth SF Bay Area. On UASI (Urban Areas Security Initiative) and fusion centers and on federal and state level privacy legislation including the Surveillance State Repeal Act, CAL-ECPA and SB 34 and SB 741, which are transparency rules for the use of automated license plate readers and cell phone stingrays.

The Future of the Internet: A Learning Session April 30th 5:00pm

Posted by on April 3rd, 2015
Media Alliance and Common Cause

n 2014, the term “net neutrality” became a household word as media titans battled over two versions of the Internet, one a participatory open network and the other a pay-to-play walled garden.

The open Internet won, in one of the biggest public interest victories of the last decade.

What happened, will it stick, and where do we go from here to keep building a 21st century cyberspace that will advance economic growth, equality, creativity and social justice?

Hear from activists and experts on the inside of the net neutrality campaign and find out about local efforts to keep up the momentum including municipal and community broadband, stopping Internet surveillance, and preventing more media consolidation.

This interactive workshop for high school and college students will make you think about the Internet you use everyday in a different way and give you the skinny on how you can be a part of building the Internet future at your school.

Free to high school, community college and 4-year college students in the Bay Area and faculty. Others asked to pay a nominal fee to attend.

Register here and join us on April 30th.

Facebook Event Page

Displaying 1-20 of 257  
Next >> 
Last Page » 
« Show Complete List »