The Center for American Progress' Eric Alterman has a thought-provoking column examining the problems with for-profit media today, and what may need to be done to ensure robust local reporting survives. As Alterman explains:

With the core news function of for-profit media increasingly on life support in the United States, we need to find ways to preserve investigative journalism and well-informed discourse as a public good, just like public safety and clean air, lest we be left with what Michael J. Copps, a visionary commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, describes as “a seriously dumbed-down democratic dialogue, diminished civic engagement and the absence of meaningful public interest oversight.”

The airwaves, believe it or not, are owned by the public—not the corporations that profit from them. And yet media companies are able to reap billions from their use of the airwaves with nothing but a “postcard” process of renewal every eight years to determine whether they are even pretending to serve the public interest.

Alterman points to a camapign for a BBC-style journalism paid for by the public as one potential solution to the problem. He notes countries with a BBC-type system receive the best marks from both liberal and progressive watchdog organizations for media freedom.

More important, Alterman argues that without a vibrant media sector

the future of informed democratic debate the United States, public education on crucial issues, and grassroots organizing for citizen action is in jeopardy.

And that is why we should pay more attention to this issue.

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