Waldman challenges technology’s reach at Parker Lecture
Written by Gregg Brekke October 3, 2011
The 29th annual
Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunication Lecture and awards was held Sept.
28 at the Washington Post Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The event honored three communication professionals for their contributions to improving
access and inclusion in media technologies.
Newton Minow Award In celebration of the 50th anniversary of former FCC
Commissioner Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech, advocating on
behalf of the public interest in television programming, OC Inc. awarded the
Newton Minow Award to retiring FCC Commissioner Michael Copps for 10 years of work at the commission in support of
the public interest and the goal of preserving diverse media voices in the
Donald H. McGannon
Award Given to Joseph W. Waz Jr., former senior vice president of
external affairs and public policy counsel of Comcast, for his work to promote
opportunities in the cable industry for young women and persons of color.
Everett C. Parker
Award Presented to Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National
Hispanic Media Coalition, for his work to promote diversity in the programming,
news coverage and hiring of mainstream media organizations, particularly on
behalf of Hispanics.
The Parker Lecture keynote address was delivered by Steven
Waldman, special advisor to the chairman of the Federal Communications
Commission and principal author of the FCC's Future of the Media report.
Waldman was the co-founder of Beliefnet.com, the largest multi-faith website on
religion, and served as its CEO from 2002 to 2007.
Waldman drew a close comparison in the motivation of both
journalists and religious leaders – the search for “the truth” and the attempt
to answer the question, “Why is the world this way?”
He cautioned against a personally disassociated approach to either
pursuit while acknowledging the need to engage technology as a means to gather
and distribute information to others.
“Both news and religion leaders have come to realize they
must focus not only on ‘the word’ – but on the community,” said Waldman of the
recognition that technology solutions do not completely meet the needs of
information and spiritual seekers. “The best houses of worship realize that a
strong individual relationship with the text is not always sufficient. It’s
also crucially important that congregants share the journey with each other –
exchanging information, ideas and support.”
Waldman recounted the demise of many journalistic outlets
and the inability of existing media companies and their reporters to provide
comprehensive coverage, especially for local news. To that end, Waldman called
for the government’s role in ensuring universal access to the Internet, where
much local news now resides – outside the traditionally FCC moderated mediums
of television and radio.
“As the Internet transforms media – bringing tremendous
benefits to those who can use it – we need to make sure that everyone can reap
the benefits,” he said.