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Tom - The New York Times is reporting that last week, a George Polk Award was given for an image of the violent death of an Iranian woman during protests last year. The man who first uploaded the video is anonymous, as are the man who captured the footage on a camera phone and the doctor who sent the video clip by e-mail with the message “please let the world know.” The uploader learned only last week that he had played a role in one of the highest honors in journalism, by reading an article about it on the Internet. The 37-second video of the death of the woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, became a symbol of the Iranian opposition movement after the country’s disputed presidential election in June. It was first uploaded to the Internet by a 36-year-old native of Iran who lives in the Netherlands. After hearing about the award last week, the man said he was proud that the video had “concentrated the world’s attention to Iran and the Iranians, to their protest and their ways for expressing.”
Linda - The panel that administers the George Polk Awards, based at Long Island University, said it wanted to acknowledge the role of ordinary citizens in disseminating images and news, especially in times of tumult when professional reporters face restrictions, as they do in Iran. The university said it had never bestowed an award on an anonymous work before. A chain of people aided in getting the video to the world, illustrating how the Internet erodes many traditional borders. The doctor sent the video clip by e-mail to several acquaintances outside of Iran, hoping they would be able to bypass the country’s Internet filters by uploading it to Web sites like YouTube. The first person to do so, according to a Web search last June, was the Iranian man in the Netherlands, who requested anonymity to protect friends and family in Iran.
Tom - Broadcasting and Cable is reporting that the FCC formally launched its inquiry into the future of the media and the information needs of communities Feb. 18 with a pledge to keep the First Amendment top of mind. Steve Waldman, who is spearheading the project, has already been on the job for several months putting together a cross-agency team and starting to gather information. Waldman said the starting point of the FCC's inquiry will be the First Amendment, adding that any time the government looks at the media it must be "very, very careful." The first workshop on the issue is scheduled for March 4. Waldman said that it would focus on TV and radio stations, saying that the future of media discussions to date have primarily concerned newspapers. Waldman is a former print journalist at Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.
Linda - Waldman said the goal is to insure that communities have vibrant and diverse sources of information, and to figure out whether the FCC's policies are suited to that goal at a time when the media landscape is changing dramatically and choices are proliferating, but the traditional business model is collapsing. Both Waldman and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowksi gave shout-outs to FCC Commissioner Copps for his passionate interest in the issue. Copps praised the project, and said it was time for action, noting that "Time is not our friend here," Said Copps: “With journalism's fuel tank fast approaching "empty" in so many localities, a leisured pace would only make an already dangerous situation totally untenable. This Commission has a responsibility to keep that from happening." Commissioner Robert McDowell had a differing opinion, asking whether government have any role at all in any effort to preserve or change journalism. He asked: “ what are the constitutional, legal and policy implications of such efforts? How would the freedom of the American people be affected by any government action beyond the solicitation of comment?"
Tom - The LA Times is reporting that allegations that Fox's shelved game show "Our Little Genius" might have been rigged has prompted an inquiry by the Federal Communications Commission into possible violations of federal rules that govern quiz shows. Revelations of the FCC probe follows the News Corp.-owned network's decision last month to yank the highly promoted program from its schedule only a week before it was supposed to premiere. Fox took the unusual step after reality-show titan Mark Burnett, who was producing the program, informed the network that there was a problem with how the young contestants had been coached for the competition. The TV program was designed to showcase precocious children, ages 6 to 12, as they answered increasingly difficult questions in a bid to win thousands of dollars for their families. Fox said no decision yet has been reached on whether it will eventually air the show.
Linda - An FCC spokesman declined Friday to comment on possible outcomes of the agency's investigation, saying only that the case was pending. In late December, the father of a young math whiz who was a potential contestant on "Our Little Genius" reported to the FCC peculiarities about how Mark Burnett Productions had shaped the contest. The father's complaint raises questions about the legitimacy of game show competitions that populate the prime-time television landscape. The allegations contained in the complaint recall the quiz show scandals of the 1950s when TV executives fixed the outcomes of "Twenty One" and "The $64,000 Question." Last month, Fox said that none of the children who participated in "Our Little Genius" were given answers to questions. Providing answers would have been a clear violation of the federal rules adopted in the wake of the 1950s quiz show scandals.
Tom - The New York Times is reporting that Iceland is considering legislation that aims to make that country a haven for journalists and publishers by offering some of the most aggressive protections for free speech and investigative journalism in the world. The proposal, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, combines in a single piece of legislation provisions from around the world: whistle-blower laws and rules about Internet providers from the United States; source protection laws from Belgium; freedom of information laws from Estonia and Scotland; and New York State’s law to counteract “libel tourism,” the practice of suing in courts, like Britain’s, where journalists have the hardest time prevailing.
Linda - According to the article, this legislation represents a direct reversal of recent Icelandic history. Secret dealings by a few banks in Iceland, combined with a lack of regulation and oversight, led to calamitous debts that were nine times the gross domestic product. In response, Iceland would institutionalize the most aggressive sunshine laws possible. The idea is similar to the way businesses relocate to countries like the Cayman Islands or Switzerland to take advantage of legal protections and shield laws for bank accounts. Publications would relocate to Iceland — or at least relocate their computer servers that publish their Web sites — in order to get the benefits of Iceland’s legal protections.
Tom - Radio Business Report is reporting that according to a survey by Roper Public Affairs & Media , PBS is the “most trusted and unbiased source” for news, ahead of all commercial networks. The survey results also called PBS an “excellent” use of tax dollars. This is the seventh consecutive year the public has named PBS the nation's most-trusted institution. In the 2010 poll, 45% of respondents said they trust PBS more than any other nationally known organization. PBS ranked at the top in public trust among every age group, ethnicity, income and education level measured. Second in trust are "courts of law," which are trusted a great deal by 26%. PBS ranks highest in importance among 58% of respondents when compared to commercial broadcast (43% of respondents) and cable television (40%).
Linda - The research was conducted in December 2009 and January 2010 by the non-partisan, international research company GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. PBS remains the network with the most trusted news and public affairs programs, with 40% trusting its programs a "great deal." Fox News Channel was second with 29% and CNN was third at 27%. PBS KIDS earned the #1 ranking as the most educational media brand for children, receiving 21% of the top ratings from respondents. PBS KIDS remains the most essential source of children's programming, with 89% of respondents saying it is "very important" for PBS to provide children's programming. A near majority of Americans believe the federal funding PBS receives is insufficient. When informed that public broadcasting receives 15% of its funding from the government, and that this amount translates to about one dollar per person per year of government support, 46% believe this amount is "too little," 39% say it's "about right" and only 11% state that it's "too much."