FCC advisor: We need the eggs

Communities / Article

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org Steve Waldman’s talk at the MLS luncheon reminded me of the old Woody Allen joke:

This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken,’ and uh, the doctor says, ‘well why don’t you turn him in?’ And the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’

Journalism is crazy sick, says the FCC’s media doctor. Waldman thinks place-based foundations should step up with non-profit media initiatives to fill the gap in community journalism.

Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships. You know, they’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd and, but uh, I guess we keep going through it…because…most of us need the eggs.’

Laughter for Woody’s joke. Mock applause from one attendee in response to Waldman ending on an optimistic note.

Waldman, the co-founder of News Corp.’s Beliefnet.com and a former national editor at US News & World Report, has been tapped by the Federal Communications Commission to oversee the regulatory agency’s initiative to assess the state of media in challenging economic times and make recommendations designed to ensure ‘a vibrant media landscape.”

His report on the state of journalism in our communities was sobering. The journalism business has been reduced by half or more. Half the number of reporters, half the coverage, half the revenue. And sinking fast.

That’s a big public policy issue for our government, one that has implications in every community. Journalism has always been sinking to a new low, the pundits say. Now it has become a sinkhole. Waldman thinks community foundations should turn on the spigot and fill the well. He thinks they are central to vibrant media in societies large and small

The government is not going intervene, Waldman says, so community foundations must step up and fund journalism.

‘I’m going to close on an optimistic note,’ he said. More applause. Foundations can create vibrant communities and ‘the best media system ever.’

We need the eggs. And the money.

A post from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar. At Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar, community and place-based foundation leaders meet with journalism and technology experts to explore the topic of community information needs. Follow the event on Twitter at #infoneeds and @knightfdn.