Posted by: bahughes13 | November 19, 2011

Life Beyond McChesney

I have been struck by how much McChesney’s work focuses on what was and very little on what will be. For the first time in my life, I actually became interested in what was going on at the FCC and its impact on federal regulations. There are currently four FCC commissioners, including two appointed by President Obama (the chair, Julius Genachowski, and Mignon Clyburn). Two others mentioned in the book, Michael Copps and Robert McDowell, remain at the FCC. McDowell, originally a Republican appointee, was re-appointed by President Obama.

 

In my research, I was pleasantly surprised to see news reporting from just a few weeks ago. These stories detailed how Genachowski succeeded in getting a unanimous vote to use $4.5 million from a telephone subsidy program (originally designed to build phone networks in rural areas) to extend high-speed Internet throughout the country to an estimated 20 million Americans who currently don’t have access. “We are taking a system designed for the Alexander Graham Bell era of rotary telephones and modernizing it for the era of Steve Jobs and the Internet future he imagined,” Genachowski said.

 

Then came news, just last week, of a non-profit organization called Connect to Compete that the FCC will oversee. This public-private partnership includes major broadband and computer companies such as Microsoft. It’s a $4 billion program designed to bring high-speed Internet access and computers to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It aims to “narrow the digital divide” that McChesney is so fond of discussing. To read more, go to http://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/nov/09/business/la-fi-fcc-broadband-20111109

 

Discussion questions:

1.  McChesney mentions the BBC as an example of a better funded, better functioning media system for democratic countries. Beyond that, are there any other media systems in the world that he would prefer? Any others that he thinks really do it right? Or is he asking for a utopian system that is unattainable in any place?

2.  Last week in class, the Sandusky sex abuse scandal was brought up as an example of what’s wrong with modern journalism – a focus on the sensational. But, isn’t this also an example of a society finally being willing to examine an important issue that, for decades, would have been considered taboo?

3.  McChesney predicted the Occupy Movement. But, he did not seem to address what happens after the explosion of anger erupts in the Left. Can Occupy transform itself from an amorphous group of angry victims to effective power brokers?

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