Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Future of Media: Women and Minorities Need Not Apply...

Some of the most important conversations about where media, marketing, and technology are headed are often conducted behind closed doors, at conferences and panel discussions attended by industry insiders who received invitations or could afford to attend. Rarely, if ever, are the conversations or findings from these events reported or published where anyone might read them. As a result, certain attitudes that might perpetuate sexism and raceism might be allowed to continue unchecked and unquestioned....

It has always been part of the mission of this blog to expose and disclose what goes on at some of these hush-hush gatherings. Unfortunately, I missed a good one the other day--one that should have been reported on*: The Future of Media panel presented by the New America Foundation and held at their offices in Washington D.C. The panelists were Steve Coll, President of the NAF; Commissioner Michael Copps of the FCC; and Ted Koppel, Sr News Analyst at NPR.

All old (born sometime in the 1940's) white guys.

Let me note that this is not to say that the NAF deliberately chose not to include a woman and a minority in the discussion. But it does indeed raise the question why, if the recent joint FCC FTC report “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age" discusses the need of "diverse voices," that the panel did not include any diverse voices.

There does not seem to be any clear and compelling reason why a woman and minority--two diverse voices-- weren't included. There are many, many non-white, non-guys of the same generation (if we want to talk generations, too) who are as equally august as the gentlemen included here, who would have been great on this panel. They would have had the experience and direct information to answer questions regarding participation of these two diverse groups in the new digital media landscape.

This isn't a lone incidence of something like this: rather, it's endemic to closed-door conversations and many professional conferences. When the conversation about something so important as the future of media is occurring not just behind a closed door, but also among a group that has held sway over it for so long, one might be able to reach the conclusion that the discussions may, perhaps, be held merely as a way to pay lip-service to the changes in order to feel good about the perpetuation of the status quo.

I'd like to be fair to the New America Foundation and its efforts to hold some meaningful dialogue on the FCC's report, but it's awfully hard when it seems so much like the same old same old hush-hush hegemony.

Fortunately,NAF recorded the event. You can find A Conversation on the Future of Media here. Finding the FCC report itself, however, isn't as easy...go figure.

*although it may have been reported on C-Span. yeah, like most people watch that network...

See also: FCC Backs Away from Aiding Media
Less of less: FCC-commissioned report finds a "surprisingly small audience for local news traffic.

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