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The Future of Media: Bridging the Offline and Online World

The future of our media is about a whole lot more than whether another season of Jersey Shore gets made (but that’s part of it…). It’s also about whether we can organize on Facebook, or communicate with our smartphones, without cable, telephone and cellular companies discriminating against what we say or where we are saying it. It’s about whether cable news outlets and blogs and newspapers will discuss and debate important issues in a meaningful way. It’s about ensuring that we can freely connect, discuss ideas, share resources and keep working to change the world without first getting the permission of big business.

How can we expect to save the environment or stop violence abroad if media outlets refuse to even let these issues see the light of day? What kind of social justice is actually achievable when entire communities are shut out from communications technologies?

These issues are exactly why, from April 8-10, thousands who believe that better media is the key to a better world will join together at the National Conference for Media Reform.

The state of our media system today is no accident. The rapid disappearance of quality journalism, the growing digital divide, and the impending corporate takeover of the Internet are all impacted by policy decisions made in Washington. These debates are too important to be left to lobbyists from media conglomerates. And while they are certainly crucial to every member of society, the fate of these decisions should be a front and center issue for non-profit technologists and agents of change.

When legislators in Congress or regulators at the FCC are considering issues like Net Neutrality – the fundamental principle that keeps cable and phone companies from speeding up or slowing down websites or applications – those of us who rely on the Internet to do our work must speak up and get involved. Without the stories of how communities have come together to harness compassion and concern online, policymakers only hear from companies that seek to dramatically increase their profits at any expense. Even if it means silencing speech they don’t like or blocking applications that compete with their own services.

Those are exactly the issues that the National Conference for Media Reform tackles. Over the course of this jam-packed, three-day event, you’ll hear from leading thinkers and experts talking about how technology is reshaping media, politics and our daily lives. You’ll get the opportunity to take part in hands-on skill building workshops on how to run successful campaigns and discuss strategies for engaging key constituents. Policymakers and advocates will come together to debate the media issues facing us in the coming months.

But arguably the most important thing about this event is the people: It will give 2,500 people a chance to debate, discuss and meet each other face to face – bridging that connection between our online and offline worlds and ensuring more meaningful interactions with each other in the future.  

At Free Press we believe these issues are more than just bold ideals – they are crucial principles worth fighting for. And we are just one part of a growing movement of individuals and organizations who know that without a healthy media system, we will struggle every step of the way to achieve our goals.

Convinced? Go here to register for NCMR 2011 now.

*Candace Clement is the Outreach Manager for Free Press.

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