FCC report finds major shortage of in-depth local journalism

New York Times | “The Information Needs of Communities” | Poynter.org
The Federal Communications Commission study says “the independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism — going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy — is in some cases at risk at the local level.” Written by former Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report journalist Steven Waldman, the report recommends making actual in-the-field reporting a part of the curriculum at journalism schools, steering more government advertising money toward local instead of national media, and changing the tax code to encourage donations to nonprofit media organizations. || Al Tompkins: National radio is covering news quite well, says the report, but the story on the local level is grim.

From the Associated Press story on the FCC study:

Responding to the findings, Ken Paulson, president of the American Society of News Editors, said that “while there are probably fewer reporters sitting in city council and municipal board meetings … America’s newspapers have not abandoned investigative journalism.”

He said newspapers can do unprecedented investigative work using sophisticated high-tech tools. He cited database analysis and sophisticated online mapping programs, which can provide readers with detailed information about their individual neighborhoods.

> The case for collaboration in local investigative reporting
> Open letter to FCC about media policy for the digital age
> Can nonprofit local news sites survive?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joshstearns Josh Stearns

    There are some very good ideas in the report – many of which have been written about previously by Free Press, USC Annenberg, Columbia and others . However, where the FCC actually has the power and jurisdiction to help local communities, the report falls short and seems contradictory. Indeed, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said today: “The policy prescriptions here [...] don’t follow from the diagnosis.” The FCC bemoans the state of local accountability news but then recommends abandoning their own “localism” inquiry. They spend 18 months collecting data and then recommend a process to make it harder to collect data about local news. They point to media consolidation as detrimental to quality local news, then suggest potentially allowing more media consolidation. It’s a conundrum. 

  • Work Avoidance Log

    OK, OK, settle down there, old-timer. The FCC isn’t “prescribing” anything. The word–right up there in the second sentence of the story–is “recommends.”

  • http://lincolnparishnewsonline.wordpress.com/ Walter Abbott

    What does the FCC have to do with journalism?  It’s duty is to allocate scarce radio/tv broadcast spectrum.  That a government agency is prescribing college j-school curriculum should alarm anyone whose job it is to act as watchdog of government.

  • Anonymous

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    I find it somewhat ironic that while the FCC wrings its hands over a dearth of reporting to hold local government agencies accountable, the DOJ prosecutes whistleblowers who try to hold federal government agencies accountable.

  • Anonymous

    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px ‘Helvetica Neue’}

    I find it somewhat ironic that while the FCC wrings its hands over a dearth of local reporting to hold government agencies accountable, the DOJ prosecutes whistleblowers for trying to hold government agencies accountable.

  • Anonymous

    It’s good to see more people calling for more street reporting in journalism schools. At some point, the emphasis needs to shift back to reporting and writing and away from technology. I can barely pump gas, so I may biased, but I don’t think reporters need “sophisticated high-tech tools” to do decent investigative stories. But I do think they need to ask the right questions and perhaps have a healthy dose of moral outrage. I’d like to see more teachers and editors focus on those qualities.

    Sam Roe

  • Anonymous

    In Vermont VTDigger http://vtdigger.org/  is filling this need with longform investigative journalism, and they just launched Tipster http://tipster.vtdigger.org/ a social network for journalists, PR people and the public to collaborate on reporting with a function for submitting anonymous tips. They are doing a wonderful job.

  • Anonymous

    In Vermont VTDigger is filling this need: http://vtdigger.org/