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June 7, 2004

public-interest groups and communications policy

I'm delighted to announce that a student of mine, Tina Sherman, passed her dissertation defense today. I don't want to "scoop" Tina by revealing her findings. However, she interviewed about two thirds of the leaders of all the self-described "public interest" groups that work in the fields of communications and information technology. These are the groups that lobby or litigate--ostensibly in the interests of the public--on issues like the number of TV stations that a company can own, the availability of licenses for local, "low-power" radio stations, the basic rules governing the Internet, the number of years that copyright protection lasts, and the amount of money that we spend equipping schools with computers. Tina also interviewed several foundation executives who fund these advocacy groups. Her research portrays one fairly typical subset of the "public interest community," roughly 30 years after Ralph Nader, John Gardner, and their peers created the first of these groups. The results are important and troubling.

June 7, 2004 5:29 PM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments


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