By David Honig
For decades, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) supported the Federal Communications Commission’s prohibition on a company owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.
But this year, as the FCC reviews its media ownership rules, we urge the agency to relax the 37-year-old regulation. As the nation’s leading advocate for equal opportunity and civil rights in mass media, the MMTC champions a diverse and robust Fourth Estate. And the absolute ban on cross-ownership no longer serves this purpose.
Local journalism faces unprecedented challenges, as print circulation declines and Craigslist and other websites decimate classified advertising. Hundreds of newspapers have shut down or reduced publication frequency in recent years. Most of the surviving newspapers reduced the size of their newsrooms and scaled back on local coverage of city councils, school boards, and government agencies such as boards of elections.
Although many blogs and other websites cover local news, they do not have the same resources to dedicate to local journalism, and they often merely summarize newspaper articles. Simply put, no other medium provides the quality and depth of journalism that newspapers provide.
The decline of newspapers causes great concern in…