On the same day that the Federal Communications Commission launched its Future of Media initiative, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker said in a Washington D.C. speech that government needs to stay out of the media business mess.
According to Broadcasting & Cable, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker spoke at a future of journalism meeting in Washington. “I oppose the proposition that at the first sign of a challenge the government should step in and fix it,” she said. “Our nation has flourished for over 200 years with a strong independent press as a check on government abuse. This tradition should not be discarded so easily. “
President Obama nominated Baker to take the Republican seat vacated by Deborah Taylor Tate in June 2009. She was sworn in on July 31.
Among those core values are independence from government, she suggests. Citing a proposal by former Washington Post editor Len Downie for a national local news fund administered by grant-making bodies, she says no thanks. “However well-intentioned and well-crafted, I vote no on this public option. Direct government funding of journalism is the wrong answer,” she says.
She said it was dangerous for industry to start looking to Washington to resolve “fundamental challenges to their business,” adding that “bailing out” journalism could hamper commercial efforts by journalists to help themselves.
She said the First Amendment rights for a free press are being lost in the debate. “We must be wary of any attempts to let the government foxes into the henhouses of the press,” she said.
Steven Waldman, the FCC chairman’s senior advisor who is leading the Future of Media project, said in a video statement that the First Amendment is the “starting point for this effort” and advisors will be “keeping that principle in mind always.”
“A free press, independent of government control, is a foundational principle of our democracy,” he said. “Any time the government even looks at the media, we have to be very careful.”
Here’s Baker in an appearance on C-SPAN discussing FCC issues including media ownership and net neutrality.
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