A National Fund for Local News?

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Former Washington Post Executive Editor, Len Downie, Jr., has authored a report for the Columbia School of Journalism entitled “The Reconstruction of American Journalism”.  In the report, Downie defends the endangered practice of accountability journalism. Promoting a ground-up strategy that could strengthen local journalism, he calls upon the FCC to create a national fund for local news.  Supporting robust local journalism, especially in public radio and television, is commendable, but establishing a discrete public fund may prove a long, uphill battle that would not remedy PBS’ larger funding and programming problems.  Restructuring PBS at the national level and giving it the means to expand its coverage of local, national, and international news seems a more holistic approach.  The BBC’s extensive local news sets the standard and proves the point.  Still, Downie’s report underscores the necessity of public journalism in our national life and the report should be required reading for the FCC, Congress, and the Obama administration, especially in the greater context of PBS reform.  To watch Jeffrey Brown’s Newshour interview of both Len Downie, Jr. and Nicholas Lehman, Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism (aired 10/20/09), click here.

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