FCC adviser says nonprofits need to “rise up” to meet news coverage challenges

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Steve Waldman, a Federal Communications Commission senior adviser, gave a preview of his upcoming report, “The Future of Media and the Information Needs of Communities in a Digital Age” Monday (Feb. 28) for around 300 community foundation leaders at the Knight Foundation’s annual Media Learning Seminar in Miami. First, public media should not count on any federal support. “Government is not going to step in to fund this,” he said. “The nonprofit sector is going to have to rise up” to fill news coverage voids, he said. He broadly defines nonprofit news as including not only public broadcasters but also media centers, public access channels, low-power FM radio stations and schools running local news operations. The good news: Waldman thinks there’s potential to do more than “avert disaster.” Foundations can pitch in support to create something better than what has been lost in massive waves of news-industry layoffs. “It has the potential to be something fantastic,” he said, telling the foundation execs, “You’re at the center of a very important, exciting task.”

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