On Monday night the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) senior advisor to the chairman Steve Waldman tried out the agency’s “Reboot” message on a tough crowd: regulation averse digerati from Silicon Alley. The small group of entrepreneurs and very vocal journalist/bloggers including CUNY prof and BuzzMachine blogger Jeff Jarvis and Wired’s Spencer Reiss got together at the offices of PR firm Morris + King to hash out what Waldman is supposed to be doing.
Waldman, founder of BeliefNet (a longtime M+K client) and former Newsweek journalist, was tapped by his old friend, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to deliver a non-binding “Future of the Media” report by the end of this year. Genachowski brought in Waldman last Fall to sift through everything related to the state of news media today–existing research from places like Pew and Poynter Institutes, policies and pending initiatives such as the stance on Net Neutrality and the possible relaxation of cross-ownership rules between media companies.
“It’s an exercise in restraint. I can’t always mouth off with my point of view,” said Waldman. His job isn’t to figure out how to save the mainstream media from itself or fix business models, but to understand the various forces that pose a threat to the essential role of the news in holding commercial interests accountable.