Gawker, as we’ve known it, will be no more. Univision’s offer will encompass all seven of Gawker Media’s sites, including Gawker.com Ziff Davis and Univision were the only two bidders for Gawker, which filed for bankruptcy after Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel won a $140 million judgment in a privacy case. Ziff Davis had originally offered… [Read more…]
By KWAN BOOTH and TRACIE POWELL
It started with the launch of Blavity, a platform that targets black millennials, and Abernathy, an online magazine for black men. Both caught fire in 2015. Tired of waiting for mainstream media to “get it” and to “get them,” 2016 will be the year millennial, women, and people of color go all in with their own media platforms, giving mainstream outlets a real run for the money– both in terms of audience growth, content development and revenue.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 media ventures we expect to see blow-up next year… In a good way.
- Rosarium Publishing (://www.rosariumpublishing.com/)
- Rosarium is a two-year-old publishing company focused on genre fiction and graphic novels by people of color. Notable 2015 work includes the “Stories for Chip” anthology honoring famous black science fiction writer Samuel Delany and “APB: Artists against Police Brutality,” an anthology of short comics about police violence and prison reform. 2016 projects include an anthology of SouthEast Asian Steam Punk and a series of children’s fantasy novels by Iranian writers.
- Everyday Feminism (://everydayfeminism.com/)
- Everyday Feminism is the largest feminist media site focused on providing media, and cultural analysis from an intersectional social justice perspective. Popular 2015 topics included cultural appropriation, white privilege, mental illness and cis gender identity. In 2016, expect to see Everyday Feminism expand into comics and multimedia with more focus on rape culture, immigration, queerness and class inequality.
Another Round Podcast (://www.buzzfeed.com/anotherround)
- Buzzfeed’s pop culture podcast hosted by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton covering “everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes.” Notable interviews in 2015 included Hillary Clinton, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Melissa Harris-Perry. Expect to hear more political figures on this podcast in 2016. If politicians are smart, they’ll come here to reach millennial voters.
- This Week In Blackness (://thisweekinblackness.com/)
- Multiplatform news, opinion and pop culture analysis of issues relevant to black communities. The network features a series of podcasts and a website that regularly comment on, and drive conversations, around police brutality, sexism and media bias. Expect to see users increasingly tune-in to This Week In Blackness in 2016 as an alternative to national mainstream news media outlets.
- The Phat Startup (://www.thephatstartup.com/)
- Media company producing business and entrepreneurial focused content with a bent on combining technology and hip hop culture. The Phat Startup team produces a traveling conference and regular podcast interviews with well known business, entertainment and tech figures including Tristan Walker, Gary Vaynerchuck, and James Altucher. Look to The Phat Startup as an alternative, or supplement to, Recode and other mainstream tech sites.
- Black men’s magazine/journal launched in 2015. Features long form essays, interviews and commentary on culture, business, tech, social justice and identity issues relevant to black men. More nimble and flexible, Abernathy has already beat ESPN’s “The Undefeated” to a successful launch. In 2016 look for the company to continue building on its audience and adding corporate sponsors (it already has several including MailChimp and Basecamp) to its roster.
- Blavity (://blavity.com/)
- In a little more than a year, Blavity has become one of the most innovative voices in online media by focusing on content that appeals to, and prioritizes, black millenials. The site combines news, explanatory pieces, multimedia and a network of active social media accounts to connect with a young audience often missed by traditional news organizations. In 2016 the company will be focused on growing the brand and content offerings and is actively hiring new staff to help build the future of media.
- Emblematic Group (://www.emblematicgroup.com/)
- Founded by award winning transmedia journalist Nonny De La Pena, Emblematic is leading the conversation around virtual reality and 3D storytelling for journalists and media organizations. Standout projects include One Dark Night which combines 911 calls with an immersive virtual reality environment to recreate the night of Trayvon Martin’s death and Kiya, a virtual reality piece dealing with domestic violence. In 2016, as cheaper virtual reality headsets hit the market, look to Emblematic to begin connecting communities of color in ways Twitter and Instagram have not.
- Co-founded in April 2015 by Jill Koziol and Liz Tenety, this isn’t just another website for moms. Mother.ly targets millenial moms who want week-by-week personalized product information and advice. Mother.ly is part of the fifth cohort mentored by MATTER, an accelerator for early stage media entrepreneurs. In 2016 look for Mother.ly to monetize itself by offering online-classes, producing buying guides and through expertly matching products with highly selective members of its growing community.
- Mingyian (://mingyian.com/)
- Co-founded by Jenny Bai and Rebecca Eydeland, Mingyian is a three-year-old platform that connects Western celebrities with millions of super-fans in China; has already amassed an audience of 7 million users; and raised $850.000 in seed funding. These numbers have caught the attention of several celebrities who want to be part of Mingyian’s growing network, including rapper Pitbull, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, singer Jessie J, and actor Verne Troyer of Austin Powers’ fame. Mingyian has even caught the eye, and the money, of director M. Night Shyamalan who is backing the company. In 2016, look to Mingyian, another early stage MATTER venture, to make significant inroads into China’s $330 billion mobile commerce market, capitalizing on 415 million Chinese millennials interested in Western music and culture.
TV Network’s history of racism and colorism may not bode well for website formerly owned by The Washington Post Company
By Jillian Báez
Two weeks ago Spanish-language television giant Univision announced its acquisition of TheRoot.com, one of the top African American news websites. Coverage of the merger was quite celebratory and echoed co-founder Henry Louis Gates’ statement that “This bold new partnership between Univision and TheRoot underscores the ties that have long bound people of color together throughout the Western Hemisphere and is a sign of even greater levels of communication, collaboration and exchange between these culturally vital groups of people.”
But while Gates is obviously optimistic about the venture, I’m a little skeptical. Univision has some issues that no one has talked about that might impact things. For one thing, it’s digital presence, Fusion, is struggling to get traffic to its own website. Secondly, the parent company’s history as a serial consolidator and nasty habit of broadcasting racist content makes me cautious about this venture.
Univision is the largest Spanish-language television network in the U.S. and the fifth largest network overall. A look into Univision’s history helps to make sense of the network’s acquisition of The Root. Univision emerged from a consolidation of Mexican tycoon Emilio Azcárraga’s Spanish International Network (SIN) and the Spanish International Broadcasting Corporation in 1987. Hallmark purchased Univision in 1988 and sold the network to entrepreneur Jerrold Perenchio, owner of Mexico’s Televisa, and Venezuela’s Venevisión. In 2006, Broadcasting Media Partners acquired Univision. Currently, Univision owns the television networks UniMás and Galavision as well as Univision Radio. In 2012, Univision acquired Bounce TV, the second-most watched network among African Americans with 90 million homes, as its first foray into African American content. While the channel, which was co-founded by Martin Luther King III, son of the Civil Rights icon, has historically offered reruns of sitcoms from the 80s and 90s sitcoms that can also be found on cable networks like BET and TVOne, BounceTV has introduced two new original sitcoms and will debut its first hour long drama series in 2016.
In 2013, in partnership with Disney and ABC News, Univision launched Fusion, a cable network geared toward millenials. But success among this demographic has proved elusive for the network.
“The reality, since Fusion began in October 2013, has been more complex,” Ravi Somaiya and Brooks Barnes for The New York Times. “Many inside and outside the company are hard pressed to define what exactly Fusion does. Traffic to its website has been anemic at times, and it has yet to deliver the kind of attention-getting stories that digital media rivals like Buzzfeed and Vice have produced.”
Perhaps that has more to do with Univision’s history of consolidation and conglomeration rather than innovation.
For example, in response to critiques that the network had a lack of content for bilingual Latinos born in the U.S., Univision created The Flama, a bilingual website for second and third generation Latinos in 2013. On television, however, Univision still heavily relies on imported programming from Mexican network Televisa. It is also still struggling to attract non-immigrant Latino audiences, even with the advent of Fusion.
TheRoot has a very different mandate as a news website than Univision has as a transnational media conglomerate. It’s not only that The Root and Univision target different audiences, they also operate within different scopes. Whereas large media companies are primarily driven by profits, smaller outlets like TheRoot are usually more concerned with covering issues not visible in the mainstream media. At least that was the case for TheRoot when The Washington Post owned it.
While the management of The Root maintains that it will still have editorial control, it is possible that Univision will exert some influence over the tone and tenor of the site. It is also doubtful that The Root and Univision will create content that will foster conversations between the African American and Latino communities. As of now, for example, Univision’s acquisition of Bounce TV has not influenced programming on either network. Instead of creating coalitions between African American and Latino communities, the acquisition has proven to be more of a move towards aggregating growing and lucrative niche markets for increased profits. More of the same is probably what we can expect with the purchase of TheRoot.
The merger between Univision and TheRoot should not be divorced from recent criticism the network received in response to a host commenting that Michelle Obama looked like “something from the cast of the Planet of the Apes.” While Univision fired the host shortly after the incident, it received mainstream media attention and spotlighted the network’s long track record of racist content. At best, indigenous-looking and black Latinos are relegated to buffoon or servant roles in telenovelas and at worst they are invisible on Univision’s other programming. In 2010, Univision issued an apology after airing a Despierta America segment about South Africa winning the 2014 World Cup that featured the cast of the morning show dancing in Afro wigs while holding spears. During the network’s World Cup 2014 coverage, Univision commentators were criticized for making racist remarks about black players during the games. While the network didn’t make a formal apology, it did agree to look further into the issue and its on-air practices. It is also problematic that many of the network’s on-air talent are white-skinned Latinos and that dark-skinned Hispanics are rarely seen on-camera.
It is also worth noting that Univision’s CEO, Randy Falco, is a white Anglo man who does not speak Spanish. Univision’s purchase of TheRoot might be part of the network’s efforts to be more racially inclusive, but we shouldn’t forget that ownership is key. In a media system where only a very few own access to producing and distributing media content, I am hesitant to celebrate yet another merger.
Celebrating its fifth year, Hispanicize is the second largest Latino event uniting those in the journalism, marketing and entertainment fields and that provides daily education sessions, networking events and support to Latinos looking to advance their media skills.
Hispanicize chairman and founder Manny Ruiz started the event after selling his company Hispanic Wire and other properties to PR Wire for $5.5 million in 2008.
“It really started as an experiment…,” Ruiz said. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next because I had been an entrepreneur for so long. I wanted to unite the multicultural diversity of public relations because I hadn’t seen that before.”
Hispanics comprise 17 percent of the U.S. population, but only 20 media outlets – 13 local and seven nationally – directly serve the community, according to the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which tracks how Hispanics are covered in the media. One of the themes of this year’s Hispanicize is how content providers can more effectively communicate to bilingual audiences and deliver multi-generational content.
What began as one of small five ventures for Ruiz morphed into one large celebration of Latino culture and networking event for marketing, film and journalism industry professionals.
“Selfishly, I wanted to do it because I wanted to build a platform that would service my interest in being a film maker,” Ruiz said. “One of the biggest costs filmmakers have is marketing. So, I did see opportunity in creating a mass media and social media event. I realized after the first one there was an incredible appetite for the vision that we had.”
The journalism component is an integral part of Hispanicize as it speaks to the inclusiveness of the Latino community, said Hugo Balta, senior director of multicultural content at ESPN and Hispanicize board member.
“In telling the story of U.S. Hispanics, it is imperative that who is empowered to produce those stories are reflective and inclusive of that community,” Balta said. “As Hispanicize seeks to inform and educate the marketplace about the diversity opportunity, journalists are key in delivering that content to English and Spanish speaking audiences.”
“There isn’t any city in the U.S. where the general audience isn’t going to be exposed to Latinos,” said Balta, who will host a Hispanicize session on media outlets delivering bilingual content to multigenerational Latinos. “Hispanicize provides an important voice and fills a need, not just in the Latino community but in the American community at large, so (content providers) have a better understanding in reaching underserved communities.”
Recap of Hispanicize 2014:
By ELLEN NICOLE USHER
Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory has never been more relevant than it is in today’s fast-growing global and digital economy. With forty percent of the world’s population connected to the Internet, the Web has revolutionized the way companies conduct business. The news industry is no exception. A steady decline in revenue and increased layoffs, coupled with the success of digital companies like BuzzFeed, Gawker and The Huffington Post, has prompted many journalists to become digital media entrepreneurs.
But for every successful digital media upstart, there are dozens more failures. To survive in this ever-changing arena, journalists-turned-entrepreneurs must carefully research and plan before launching their businesses. Here are six ways digital media entrepreneurs can protect themselves before launching their startups.
1. Consult a Startup Attorney as Early as Possible
According to Ann Scarlett, professor of Business and Entrepreneurship Law at St. Louis University School of Law, one of the first things entrepreneurs should consider is hiring a lawyer to help navigate the waters of starting a business. Costs, Scarlett notes, should not deter start-ups from seeking the assistance of an attorney. “Many attorneys are willing to sit down with clients. Some even offer flexible payment plans that meet your budget.” Because developing a startup can involve employment, contract, tax, and other legal issues, consulting an attorney is an investment in protecting your business from any possible structural, employment or intellectual property issues in the future.
2. Decide if Your Startup Will Be an S-Corporation or a Limited Liability Company
Choosing either option will lower your startup’s taxes and possibly shield it from future liabilities. Understanding the benefits of an S-Corporation and a Limited Liability Company, and comparing them with your startup’s ultimate goal, will make this decision easier. “If your goal is to grow the business as quickly as possible, merge and go public, then forming a corporation is best,” Scarlett says. “If your goal is to have a comfortable income, liability protection, and less paperwork when registering your business, then the Limited Liability Company would be the best option.”
3. Create a Detailed Founders’ Agreement
Creating a detailed founders’ agreement is important because it can save your startup from having to litigate unclear policy and procedural issues later down the line. Startups should explicitly state the overall goals and expectations of the business, the duties and responsibilities of each founder, their salaries, and explain the procedure for dissolving a corporation if things go badly or someone dies unexpectedly.
4. Protect Your Intellectual Property
Wallace Lightsey, counsel at Wyche law firm in South Carolina (which represents All Digitocracy), says key concerns for digital media companies are those involving protecting ownership and infringement of intellectual property rights. Most of this can be done through filing your patents early, drafting the proper contracts and stipulating ownership of your ideas.
“Entrepreneurs need to file their patents before presenting to potential investors,” St. Louis University’s Scarlett added. In addition, startups should make sure that their idea was not created while working with another company, which can lead to litigation with former employers, she said.
5. Know Employment and Tax Laws Specific to Digital Media Start Ups
- Employment Law Issues. Startups must be careful when classifying the people who work for them. They should clearly specify whether a worker is an intern, independent contractor, or employee. The Small Business Association has provided information to help businesses understand the classifications. Such classifications can determine a business’s tax obligation.
- Tax Law Issues. “If they choose a corporate form, there are many tax laws that new businesses may not be aware of, such as the self-employment tax law,” says Scarlett. The IRS also has guidelines for businesses owners.
6. Know Your State’s Defamation Laws
It is important to understand not only defamation law, but digital media startups should know their state’s specific laws, Lightsey urged. Knowing these laws can help save your company from potential litigation, he said.
The list compiled above is not intended to be legal advice nor is it comprehensive, meaning entrepreneurs should refer back to item #1 and engage an attorney as soon as possible in order to reduce the chance of having to go to court later.
New U program seeks a new home
The New U Project, an initiative to increase the number of entrepreneurs of color in the digital media space, will not fund any projects in 2015, said Doug Mitchell, one of New U’s project directors.
New U’s grant ran out, Mitchell said. But further, directors did not seek to renew the grant at this time because they want to reorganize, he added.
“We intentionally went dormant because we know that to grow the program, it needs to be inside a university that has shown both a strong commitment to diversity and entrepreneurship,” Mitchell said. “We’re talking to a couple of them and will look to bring the program back next year under a new fiscal sponsor and different kinds of programming.”
The Ford Foundation, an independent non-profit and grant-making organization, had been supporting the NewU project to the tune of $500,000 over the past five years. Journalist entrepreneurs participated in boot camps as well as received training and mentoring to help prepare them to own media businesses. Entrepreneurs also competed to receive seed money for their companies.
Last year’s seed winners were Chris Dell, founder of Go Baller, a platform that curates social media content and DeShuna Spencer, founder of kweliTV, a web-based TV network that will offer a selection of on-demand independent films, web shows and documentaries.
New U has made a difference, not just in terms of the seed money but in terms of the support participants receive in designing a scalable business model, Spencer said. New U is especially vital for minority women entrepreneurs, she added.
“It’s been a very helpful organization for me to be a part of, even beyond the $20,000 seed money,” said Spencer who applied for the grant a couple of times before finally winning in 2014. “We learned how to put together a pitch-deck and met veteran entrepreneurs who helped us think beyond our business ideas and figure out the financials. And based on advice I received from New U, I fine-tuned my pitch deck. This is what I now use when I go talk to investors about my company.
“The program is especially vital for minority women,” Spencer continued. “We’re less likely to get funding. Less likelty to get support. It’s really important for women like myself who have great ideas, but can’t find the resources to make it happen.”
Mitchell underscored the impact the project has had particularly with women of color. Three of the past five winners are in this demographic, he said.
New U launched in 2010, and until this year, UNITY: Journalists For Diversity, had administered the grant. “The program has been successful and the project managers have done a good job,” UNITY President Russell Contreras said by phone. “But right now the program is in flux. The Ford Foundation has been tremendously supportive of all our programming, not just New U. So as we shift our focus to news coverage of poverty, we look forward to continue working with Ford. We hope to continue the energy from New U, but everything will be assessed as we decide UNITY’s next stage.”
A chance encounter with a digital media rockstar confirms what I already knew: Women journalists aren’t on the same page when it comes to effecting change in the news industry
This past week I was among 150 women entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of digital news who gathered in New York City to connect with funders, visionaries, and each other. It was an opportunity to learn from, inspire and motivate ourselves. The Cracking the Code Summit, sponsored by the Ford and International Women’s Media foundations, was all that and more.
The summit also allowed me to talk personally with a woman I have long admired and respected from afar. Except now I wish I hadn’t.
I won’t name the woman. Her name isn’t important.
Suffice it to say this woman is a rock-star digital journalist entrepreneur. The business model she launched was reportedly worth millions and is now a well-respected brand in the industry. She has a reputation for being engaging, approachable and even fun. Except she was none of these when I met her.
Almost from the second I stuck out my hand to introduce myself, I wanted to snatch it back. Her facial expression let me know that she wasn’t interested. But I persisted. I told her we’d met before and how enamored I was with her story. I wondered if she might give me some advice about how to pursue building All Digitocracy. She seemed to want to be any place other than standing there talking with me.
I quickly asked if I might email her, maybe talk with her about possible mentors. “No,” she said. “No. So many people ask me about that, and no. I’m busy and don’t have time.”
“That’s fine,” I stumbled in response. “It doesn’t have to be you, I just thought you might know someone who I could…”
“No. No,” she interrupted. “Just no.”
I felt awkward and stunned as she continued. “What’s the point? Do journalists of color support this?” she said.
The tone of her voice as she referred to All Digitocracy as “this,” let me know these were statements of her facts, rather than questions. It’s not the first time someone has tried to make me feel “less than.”
So many thoughts ran through my head. The first being that you should never meet your heroes. Later, as I processed what happened, I thought of all the things that I wanted to say, but didn’t.
I wanted to run off the statistics published by the IWMF, the group that had invited us both to speak at the summit. I wanted to tell her that while women still lag behind men in U.S. newsrooms, the number of women of color is actually declining. I stuttered instead, caught off-guard by her coolness toward me.
Maybe she doesn’t like the fact that I include “journalists of color” when I talk about women, media and diversity. I know many journalists aren’t comfortable talking about race and ethnicity, so this reaction didn’t come as a total surprise. Still, I wanted to shoot back something about her response confirming an assumption I had already made about the company she founded, an assumption that it practically ignores people of color. That the assumption had spurred me to launch All Digitocracy.
I said none of this.
Besides, she was right. If journalists of color don’t support All Digitocracy at a certain critical mass, it won’t be a success. And if All Digitocracy can’t get support from journalists who aren’t of color, it won’t work either. I recognized this early on before I launched, so her saying this wasn’t what bothered me so much. It’s what came next that really stung.
“It’s not just journalists of color,” she charged. “Look, journalism is dying. I think you’re wasting your time.”
Then why is she here? I thought. This was, after all, a conference about journalism innovation. And she was there, supposedly, to share expertise with journalists about how to innovate and how to make journalism more relevant. Instead she knocked the wind out of my sails by saying my work to help save journalism doesn’t matter.
I choked out a response about All Digitocracy’s successful crowdfunding campaign that concluded this week and the fact that I’ve already gotten more than 150,000 page views despite the fact that I have just started. “Well then do your one project,” she said. “But the rest of it… I think you have a very ambitious agenda. And I just don’t think it’s going to work.”
She must have sensed how deeply her words cut because she apologized if my feelings were hurt and asked if I got anything out of her talk. I responded positively.
And with that, we both eagerly, and hurriedly, parted company.
Two women who had stood nearby and witnessed the conversation immediately walked over to me and asked if I was okay. “That was brutal,” one of them said. The other wanted me to know that she respected what I was doing. That she thought it was great. They were supportive and encouraging, just like the rest of the summit turned out to be.
My chance encounter with someone I once respected was an anomaly at an otherwise inspiring and phenomenal week that was every bit as inspiring as it was informative. Truth be told, even if this woman is no longer admirable, I can still admire the company she built. And I do.
I don’t share this story because I want sympathy after someone I respected turned out to be a jerk to me. I write this because with all the energy and money being put into developing women leaders in news media, the conversation underscores an important fact that women journalists will have to discuss at some point: When it comes to media diversity, many women aren’t on the same page, so how can we expect to effect real change? Women journalists of color have issues unique to us, one of them being that white women don’t necessarily want to hear us out. They simply don’t want to be bothered.
It’s similar to a refrain I heard a couple of months ago when the immediate past editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, came off clueless and dismissive over slights that had recently appeared in her former newspaper against TV producer Shonda Rhimes and actress Viola Davis. Abramson doesn’t get it, just like the woman at the summit doesn’t get it. Thank goodness there are so many other women – white and those of color – who do get it.
I hope those of us who do, outnumber those who don’t. If not, journalism really will die.
By CHERYL LEANZA
Good news for diversity in media ownership.
Today the Federal Communications Commission approved a number of transactions which will add ten new broadcast owners of color and women. Setting aside the details of each transaction, it is important to note, as Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn did today, that this welcome increase in African American, Asian American and women owners comes as a direct result of the FCC’s decision to start enforcing the ownership rules already on the books. Last spring the FCC recognized that some owners were using so-called “sidecar” or Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) between stations to get around federal rules barring broadcasters from owning multiple television stations in the same market.
The National Association of Broadcasters had filed a lawsuit this summer in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in hopes of preventing the FCC from taking action on these arrangements.
But today’s action is a great example showing how the FCC’s media ownership rules are an important way the agency can ensure that we have a diverse media. The station transfers approved today took place because, once the loophole was closed, the existing owners were not permitted to keep stations in violation of the FCC’s rules. If the FCC’s rules had been enforced as they should have been for the last 15 years, perhaps our media ownership numbers would not be as dismal as they are now. According to the Leadership Conference On Civil and Human Rights:
- Only 6.3 percent of women own full power television stations
- Hispanics own 3 percent
- Asian Americans own 1.3 percent
- African Americans own 0.6 percent
- Native Hawaiians and American Indians own less than a percent combined
In contrast, White ownership has increased by 7.8 percent in full power television, 11 percent in Class A television, and 8.2 percent in low power TV.
The FCC can repeat today’s success in its currently pending 2014 Quadrennial Review of ownership rules, but only if it takes action now. While the FCC closed the loophole of JSAs (which stations used to jointly sell advertising), many other similar ownership arrangements continue under the moniker of “SSAs” or Shared Services Agreements. Not only are these agreements similar to JSAs in their ability to evade compliance with the FCC’s ownership rules, but they strike at the heart of the FCC’s core goal of ensuring media diversity by enabling televisions stations to consolidate news operations.
In several important markets in our country–for example in Honolulu–viewers see the same newscast on three separate TV stations. This not only limits multiple newscasts to one viewpoint, but eliminates jobs for journalists. These agreements are also problematic because they create “financial dependency,” as Wheeler and Clyburn put it, on the part of putative owners, depriving those dependent owners of capital and wealth.
SSAs are clothed in secrecy, because unlike JSAs, broadcasters are not required to disclose their terms to either the FCC or the public. The FCC missed an important opportunity last spring when it could have required these agreements to come under scrutiny. If the FCC wants to see more deals like the ones it approved today, it needs to require disclosure in the first half of 2015–so there is enough time to analyze these agreements and adopt rules eliminating the remaining loopholes as part of the pending review.
Evan as national events confirm once again, that, yes, race does matter in how we perceive so many important aspects of daily life and public policy, we see a glimmer of hope that the people with insight into the needs of communities who have so long been closed out of the mass media might have a chance to shape local news in some places in the years to come.
Cheryl A. Leanza is president of consulting firm, A Learned Hand, LLC. In this capacity, she serves as policy advisor to the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc. — the church’s historic media advocacy arm. Her other clients include the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Public Knowledge and Native Public Media.