Google Announces That Their Effort to Improve the Quality of the Sites Retrieved in Search. Following recent commentary from Google on its efforts to weed out ‘content farm’ style sites that offer what they essentially deemed lower quality web content, the company has modified its algorithm to evade such sites. Read more: NYTIMES , PCWORLD
With the Early Cancellation of Two and a Half Men, CBS and Warner Bros. Are Losing the Top-Rated Sitcom of the Season. How Charlie Sheen’s Commentary and Recent Actions Ended the Show: WSJ
Publishing Industry Cautious On New Apple Subscription Service – PayPal Executive Sam Shrauger Says Publishers Not Likely to Buy In LATIMES
News Corp’s ‘Daily’ May Be On Android Tablets Soon FORTUNE
French Firm Lodges Antitrust Allegations, Joining Others in Ongoing European Commission Review of Google’s Search Practices ECOMMERCE TIMES
Internet TV Streaming Company, ivi, Shutdown By Court Order Over Copyright Infringement WIRED
Wired Magazine’s editor discussed the value of tablets to the future of magazines in a recent talk at Columbia University. He noted that users spend much longer on a tablet or smartphone than websites. Read more here: JOURNALISM.COLUMBIA.EDU
Rutgers-Camden Law Professor, Ellen Goodman, is Examining Public Media’s Place in the Digital Age and Policies for Future American Media RUTGERS
Is Your Cellphone Safe? A New Study, Though Inconclusive, Relates Heightened Brain Activity in the Area Closest to Phone Antennae NYTIMES
In Europe, New Antitrust Charges Surface Against Google NYTIMES
Why One News Editor Decided to Use the For-Profit Model in His Latest News Venture CJR
The Recent Removal of Figurative Art by Facebook Administrators Brings Controversy NYTIMES
News Corp Acquires Shine GUARDIAN
A Look at the Combined Audience Numbers for Huffington Post and AOL News and Media Sites NIELSENWIRE
TIME Looks at How Support for Al-Jazeera May Help the Network Make the Transition to US Television TIME
Time’s CEO Leaves After Six Months NYTIMES
Association of Magazine Media CEO Raises Concerns About the Ramifications of New Apple, Google Subscription Services CNET
Who Will Be the Next to Lead News Corp? NYTIMES
My article, which appeared in the New York Daily News on Monday, February 7th, 2011
This month, there are four bills pending in Congress that would eliminate federal funding for the most trusted institution in America. For the last seven years, according to the annual Roper opinion poll, more Americans put their trust in this institution than any other. In 2010, it ranked two times higher than the criminal justice system, 2-1/2 times higher than network television and a whopping 7-1/2 times higher than Congress. One hundred and eleven million Americans use it every month, yet the U.S. spends less per capita on this institution than any other First World country spends on the equivalent. I am talking, of course, about public television.
Why cut off funds for PBS? In a recession and with unprecedented national debt, so the argument goes, America simply cannot afford to spend money on anything but the basics. Surely we can’t afford Big Bird when we have things like the military and the highway system to pay for first. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), who introduced one of the bills targeting public broadcasting, has said “It is time for Congress to prioritize its spending to our nation’s most pressing needs. With the national debt over $13 trillion, the government cannot continue to fund nonessential services.”
But Lamborn presents a false choice. Combined funding for PBS and NPR is about $425 million per year, which might seem like a lot until you compare it to the rest of the federal budget. In Washington, $425 million will get you about 10 feet of an aircraft carrier, or less than a single day in Iraq. It costs $850 million just to staff and run the Senate for one year. For the cost of the AIG bailout, we could have funded public broadcasting at current levels for 155 years. Defunding America’s most trusted institution for such a tiny savings is a very bad deal for the American people.
So what’s really behind the current threat to PBS and NPR? The same thing that’s been behind all past threats: partisan political pressure.
Threats to defund PBS are nothing new. Richard Nixon, convinced that PBS news programming was biased against his administration, not only vetoed the 1972 budget for PBS, but used his influence to effectively pull all PBS news and public affairs programming from the entire 1972-73 TV season. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich famously tried to defund public media in the 1990s, claiming that federal money should not fund a “liberal” media outlet. Bill Clinton reportedly used his influence at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds NPR and PBS, to tone down criticism of the U.S. and NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
Each time the threat is the same: Make shows in line with the party in power, or we’ll cut your funding. Like censorship, budget bullying is a cowardly thing to do. Congress should have the courage to fund public broadcasting with no strings attached, no matter who is in power. That would be the best way to assure that public TV and radio continue free of political influence from either the left or the right. Fortunately for those of us in this decade, threats in past decades have always been called off amid huge popular outcry. Let’s hope this time is no different.
But let’s imagine politicians really are going after PBS to trim the budget. What does this say about how much Washington respects the values that PBS stands for, and which so many Americans share: trust, excellence and universal access to culture and education?
During my 20 years as president of Channel 13, the nation’s flagship PBS station, I received tens of thousands of letters from parents thanking me for the safe haven my station provided for their kids, for being the one media destination where children can always find shows to help them learn and grow, free of any commercial agenda. I got letters from immigrants, grateful for programs that helped them learn about, respect and become Americans. I remember a woman in the last months of her life who painted all the numbers on her remote control black except for the “one” and the “three.” My daughter, who is a hospice nurse, has said to me, “You will never know how many dying people cling to your station in their last days.”
Tough times are when the people’s government should defend common values, not abandon them. When Lyndon Johnson signed the bill that created public broadcasting, he said, “It announces to the world that our nation wants more than just material wealth … we want most of all to enrich man’s spirit.” By eliminating funding for PBS and NPR, Congress would be telling the American people and the world just the opposite.
Although many people are talking about ‘cord-cutting’ – turning off the cable box in favor of finding programming online – Comcast has reported an increase in subscribers in the last quarter. Read more here PCWORLD
American Society of News Editors Announce Awards for ’2010′s Best Journalism’ ASNE.ORG
New York Times’ Media Decoder on the Google One Pass Versus the Apple iPad Subscription Plan NYTIMES
Democrats Join Arthur the Aardvark on Capitol Hill to Support Public Media MSNBC
A Review of Columbia University’s Recent Journalism Panel, “Information Wars” CJR
Newspaper Guild of NY Campaigning Against New York Times THE CUTLINE
Hungary Revises Controversial Media Law, Leaving Many Central Ideas Unchanged WSJ
Ken Burns Speaks Out in Support of Public Media Once Again MEDIABISTRO
Apple’s New Subscription Service Announced LATIMES
Comcast Fares Well Following Merger With NBC Universal WSJ
Models For Media Business Continue to Shift – Two Media Veterans Plan 175M IPO VARIETY
Nokia to Focus its Efforts on Getting the Developing World Onto the Web NYTIMES
Obama Administration to Promote ‘Internet Freedom’ NYTIMES
Google Continues to Put Pressure on Content Farms, Gives Users Browser Option to Block Them NYTIMES
Online Viewing Numbers Increase at Netflix WSJ
Al-Jazeera English Finds Global Popularity in Wake of Egyptian Protests GUARDIAN
PBS Newshour Looks at How the Interplay of Social Media and Television Played a Pivotal Role in Egypt’s Protests PBS NEWSHOUR