The media reform movement, focused on reversing the concentration of media ownership, is gathering steam, and at least two members of the Federal Communications Commission are pushing for a regulatory tightening of the limits on ownership of media organizations. Journalists, especially from big news organizations, have thus far played only a minimal part in this vitally important discussion. Media reformers believe that media concentration chokes off diversity of expression and reduces local newsrooms' newsgathering budgets and their independence. Owners of big media companies vigorously dispute these arguments.
For professional journalists, who are committed to thorough, independent reporting, and who are seeing journalism go through immense, rapid economic changes, it matters a great deal who's right about the structure of the media.
On Thursday, February 8, Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, in conjunction with Commissioner Michael Copps of the FCC, will hold a conference on media reform that will focus particularly on the journalistic aspects of reform, and where a variety of points of view will be heard. The conference will begin with welcoming remarks by Commissioner Copps and Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. Then Walter Cronkite, the legendary television journalist, will give a keynote speech followed by two panel discussions - one which I will moderate and the other led by Richard Wald, Fred Friendly Professor of Journalism at Columbia and former president of NBC News.
The Journalism School hopes that this conference begins a more direct involvement by leaders of the profession in the debate over the regulation and the economic structure of news organizations.
The conference is open to the public but registration is required. To register, e-mail email@example.com.
--Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism
and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism
Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism