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  • 1. “The leverage we have as citizens in moving our politicians to better represent us is not tapped into enough. Having great prep and resources from Free Press made it easy to go into the meeting with confidence.” – Free Press activist Riley Neugebauer of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on his meeting with Rep. Chris Gibson’s office 2012 PROGRESS REPORT Media and technology have the power to connect The good news: Media and technology issues are people worldwide, to expose injustice, and to hold resonating with more and more people. At Free Press, government and corporations accountable to the the ranks of our activists are growing, the diversity of public interest. our allies is increasing, and — most heartening — the number and variety of actions people are taking to But far too often they fail to do so. Witness ongoing bring about fundamental change are on the rise. attempts by media companies and policymakers to censor the Internet, gouge consumers, suppress press So far in 2012, Free Press has racked up important freedom, defund public media, concentrate media policy wins resulting in tangible benefits for people ownership, outsource local news and conceal who is throughout the country. Read more below about paying to influence voters. our progress, the impact we’ve made, and our plans for the future. With your continued support, we’ll At Free Press, we believe that progress on any celebrate more victories in the months to come! important issue requires media that inform, engage and are open and accessible to all. In other words, we need healthy, democratic media to compel Washington to heed the public interest. And the only way to get the media we envision is through better media policy. This summer Free Press activists and allies held meetings with members of Congress and their staffs in more than 20 cities. “We all agreed that this is one truly nonpartisan issue: Citizens of every stripe like the idea of cheap, fast Internet and hate paying high prices for lousy service.” – Free Press activist Kate Paradis of Boulder, Colo., on meeting with Sen. Mark Udall’s office1
  • 2. MONEY, MEDIA AND ELECTIONS Bringing Sunshine to the Money, Media and Election Complex Free Press intern Molly Buckley scanning public and political files collected by activists at broadcast stations around the countryWHAT WE’VE DONE OUR IMPACTFree Press has been working to increase transparency around The FCC’s public database for the top 50 broadcast marketspolitical advertising and expose the media’s role in elections. went online in August, and journalists are already using thisBroadcasters are making billions this year from political ads information to document who is behind attack ads and howwithout providing the kind of electoral coverage that could much is being spent in individual markets. Due in part to Freehelp people cut through the spin to make informed decisions. Press’ advocacy and legal intervention, the new rule survivedAnd in recent months, broadcasters have gone to great attacks from the National Association of Broadcasters at thelengths to block the public from getting basic information FCC and on Capitol Hill. Free Press has also intervened toabout who’s trying to influence their votes. block a NAB challenge in federal court.In April, the Federal Communications Commission voted to Corie Wright of Free Press said, “These modestrequire that broadcasters post their public and political files measures will place minimal, if any, burden ononline, giving journalists, researchers and the public access to broadcasters but will offer great public benefits.”information on the record levels of political ad spending. The (“FCC Approves Plan for Online Database of PoliticalFCC’s final order cited Free Press research nearly 50 times. TV Ads,” New York Times, April 27, 2012)To bring about the new rule, Free Press led a coalitionof groups to advocate at the FCC. We also released a groundbreaking policy paper, Citizens Inundated; generated 165,000 advocacy actions in Washington from Free Press LOOKING AHEAD activists; and provided expertise to the press, earning Throughout the fall, we’ll work to expose the media’s role in more than 50 media hits. And we mobilized volunteers the muddying of our elections. Across the country, Free Press nationwide to collect political ad information from activists are inspecting the political files at their local stations broadcast stations. in markets where records aren’t yet online. Free Press is uploading the findings, which we’ll use to hold broadcasters accountable for airing misleading ads and to make demands for better political coverage. After the election results are in, we’ll analyze the results of this year’s barrage of ads and promote long-term policy changes to improve accuracy on the public airwaves. “Exercising our right as citizens to inspect public records and ask questions about the programming that we take for granted as ‘news’ felt very patriotic. Perhaps the most enlightening and disappointing observation was the disproportionate amount of ad buys by out-of-state entities.“ – Hakim Bellamy, Media Literacy Project, Albuquerque, N.M. 2
  • 3. INTERNET FREEDOM Marshaling a New Movement for Internet Freedom Jillian C. York of Electronic Frontier Foundation at a Summer of Internet Freedom event in San Francisco PROGRESS TO DATE Just before Independence Day, Free Press launched the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a document designed to unite everyone who came together to defeat SOPA and PIPA In January, Free Press played a key role in the strategic behind a positive agenda for the future of the open Internet. planning, legislative outreach and public advocacy efforts that Free Press coordinated a coalition of nearly 2,000 diverse defeated SOPA and PIPA, two dangerous Web-censorship bills groups that signed and spread the Declaration across the globe. that threatened to rip apart the fabric of the open Internet. The issue galvanized millions of Americans to engage with Internet policy for the first time. OUR IMPACT “Conventional wisdom is that SOPA would have The Declaration of Internet Freedom set online communities passed by now,” said one speaker, Timothy Karr of around the world abuzz and earned widespread media Free Press. “But conventional wisdom is wrong, and attention. Nearly 2,000 groups from 130 countries have it is no longer business as usual in Washington.” already signed it, as have Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, (“Protests Against Antipiracy Bills Take to the Streets,” Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Reps. Anna New York Times, Jan. 18, 2012) Eshoo, Darrell Issa and Jared Polis. The Declaration has been translated into more than 70 languages. Free Press Internet Campaign Director Josh Levy says that “this was a time we could push the ball forward and show our strength in not just knocking something down but protecting the freedom of the Internet.” (“The Declaration of Internet Freedom: The Net’s Minutemen Plan to Protect the Future,” the Verge, July 2, 2012)3
  • 4. IN WASHINGTON LOOKING AHEADFree Press’ advocacy for universal, affordable access to an Free Press will continue to unite groups around the worldopen Internet has had a real-world impact. In late July, for behind basic principles for Internet access, openness andexample, the FCC fined Verizon Wireless $1.25 million in innovation. This fall we’ll host events to celebrate theresponse to Free Press’ 2011 complaint that Verizon had Declaration of Internet Freedom and launch its next phase.pressured Google to disable “tethering” applications that We will work to translate the Declaration’s principles into aconsumers use to create mobile hotspots with their phones. concrete policy agenda.This settlement will save millions of Verizon customershundreds of dollars a year and establishes an importantprecedent for protecting communications on mobile devices. “I decided to translate the Declaration because I did not want my community to be isolated from “This is an important victory for consumers,” said the world bank of information.” Joel Kelsey of Free Press. “It sends a clear signal to – Mukesh Lama, who translated the Declaration of the wireless market that any practices which block Internet Freedom into Nepali or restrict consumers’ access to the Internet won’t be ignored in Washington.” (“FCC Fines Verizon $1.25M for Blocking Tethering Apps,” Washington Free Press will continue to monitor federal legislation — Post, July 31, 2012) including cybersecurity and anti-piracy bills —to protect online privacy and openness and to prevent undue expansion in government surveillance and corporate control over InternetIn August, the FCC approved a massive spectrum swap users’ personal data and communications.between a cartel of cable companies and Verizon — atransaction that will give the biggest wireless provider We’ll also continue to expose and challenge Net Neutralityeven more power to raise prices and stifle innovation and violations as they arise. We’re already gaining tractioncompetition. But the deal’s impact could have been far worse. in stopping AT&T’s scheme to force its customers to buyFree Press policy staff worked behind the scenes to extract unrelated services to use Apple’s Facetime video chat app onmajor concessions and conditions that will benefit consumers their iPhones. In addition, we will monitor the outcome ofover the long term. Verizon’s federal court challenge to the FCC’s authority to craft Net Neutrality rules. And we’ll push Congress and the FCC to confront the absence of meaningful broadband competition in the United States. “I volunteered because I believe that a free Internet is the most reliable, powerful and effective way to make the world change, reminding governments and corporations that we, the people, are in charge, and that our voice will be heard if they forget they exist for the people, and not the opposite.” – Andre Anciaes, who helped translate the Declaration into Portuguese The Declaration of Internet Freedom We stand for a free and open Internet. We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles: Expression: Don’t censor the Internet. Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks. Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate. Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions. Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used. 4
  • 5. PRESS FREEDOM AND PUBLIC MEDIA Protecting Press Freedom and Promoting Public Media Free Press activist Tanya Ruderman delivers petitions to Chicago Tribune headquarters WHAT WE’VE DONE IN 2012 IMPACT Free Press has tracked the arrests of dozens of people Free Press’ work on press suppression has changed the covering protests. We also coordinated a coalition of leading debate about citizen journalism, press freedom and press digital rights and press freedom groups to call on the Justice credentialing in the United States. Only days after Free Press Department to protect the “right to record” for people using and allies called on the Justice Department to protect people’s mobile phones or other devices. Free Press recently teamed right to record public events and protests, the DoJ released a up with the International News Safety Institute and Harvard formal statement affirming this right and detailing steps police University’s Digital Media Law Project to train journalists on departments should take to protect the First Amendment their rights in reporting on protests at the major U.S. political in the digital age. More than 100 articles cite our work conventions. These Webinars reached 5,000 participants. tracking journalist arrests, which has also been introduced as supporting evidence in court cases of arrested journalists. Meanwhile, members of Congress are starting to heed Free Press’ continued drumbeat for an investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jay Rockefeller have called on the FCC to investigate whether News Corp. remains fit to hold broadcast licenses in the United States and have asked British authorities to share their evidence of News Corp. wrongdoing. “The American people expect the media to uncover government and corporate corruption — not To protest the outsourcing of local newspaper reporting to contribute to it,” Free Press President Craig Aaron meagerly paid content producers in the Philippines, Free Press wrote. “It is Congress’ responsibility to investigate activists delivered 20,000 letters to Tribune headquarters in corruption and cover-ups of this scale, especially with Chicago, calling on the company to sever its deal with the regard to a company that has been granted numerous Journatic company and keep local news local. And as phone- licenses to use the public airwaves.”(“Advocacy hacking, bribery and conspiracy charges against Rupert Groups Call for Congressional Hearings on News Corp. Murdoch’s News Corp. mounted in the United Kingdom, Scandal,” National Journal, May 8, 2012) 70,000 Free Press activists pressed for a congressional UPCOMING PLANS investigation of the company’s activities in the United States. On the public media front, when a California court ruled that public media stations could air political ads, Free Press rallied Free Press is drawing on the broad public and political support 22,000 activists to urge NPR and PBS to reject such ads. And for public media not only to shield these institutions from to foster a more responsive and inclusive discussion about political attacks, but to organize for long-term policy changes how we approach public media policy, Free Press that would increase funding, involve community media released a report, Greater Than the Sum, makers, and invest in local and international newsgathering. which explores how to create a more In the coming months, Free Press will produce research on collaborative and connected public how media policy impacts diverse communities; challenge any media system. FCC attempts to further weaken media ownership limits; and promote policies that support diverse, independent and local news coverage.5
  • 6. GROWING THE MOVEMENT Informing, Inspiring and Growing the Media Reform Movement Jenny Lee of Allied Media Projects and Libby Reinish of Free Press at an in-district meeting in Detroit with Rep. John ConyersORGANIZING ONLINE AND IN THE FIELDTo build the media reform movement from the ground up,Free Press has brought together 3,000 participants at morethan 30 events thus far in 2012, including a summit at M.I.T.on the rights of mobile phone users, speaking engagementson college campuses nationwide, dozens of in-districtmeetings with members of Congress, and a series of Web-based trainings on political file inspections for volunteersand journalists. Free Press also launched a fully redesigned,mobile-friendly website at Freepress.net. And in the first halfof 2012 we sent more than 200 outreaches to activists and COMING RIGHT UP — JOIN US IN DENVER!published 135 blog posts on a range of issues. Free Press will hold its 2013 National Conference for Media Reform in Denver on April 5–7, bringing together thousandsIMPACT of policymakers, allies, artists, media makers, educators, students and activists. This is the nation’s largest conference devoted to media, technology and democracy issues and willThe media reform movement’s grassroots base is more vocal feature workshops, speeches, debates, trainings and strategyand engaged than ever. By September, Free Press activists sessions — not to mention a lot of fun!had already taken more than 850,000 actions — on track togreatly exceed the number taken in 2011, which was itself arecord-breaking year of 1 million actions. Our activist list has “The NCMR conference was one of theadded 75,000 new people since January. In addition, Free Press most incredible experiences of my life andearned more than 300 media hits in the first half of the year. revolutionized my two sons’ thinking. We cameOne notable media hit was the New York Times’ front-page away connected, empowered, knowing whatcoverage of our campaign to end covert consolidation — the needs to be done to make positive social changepractice in which companies exploit loopholes to control happen and understanding that the time to actmore than one broadcast news station in the same market: is now.” – Free Press activist Kim Wei, Fairlawn, N.J. “The same cookie-cutter content above a different graphic doesn’t cut it,” said Craig Aaron, the head of Free Press, a nonprofit media reform group that has gathered case studies of news sharing by stations. “Worst of all, maybe, is that we’ll never know what’s missing — what dirt isn’t being dug up, what questions aren’t asked, what stories are going uncovered.” (“You Can Change the Channel, but Local News Is the Same,” New York Times, May 28, 2012) 6
  • 7. Free Press is building a powerful nationwide movement to changemedia and technology policies, promote the public interest andstrengthen democracy. Free Press advocates for universal andaffordable Internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant publicmedia and quality journalism.Massachusetts Office Washington Office40 Main St., Suite 301 1025 Connecticut Ave. NWFlorence, MA 01062 Suite 1110877.888.1533 Washington, D.C. 20036 202.265.1490