The report, brief, and other material on this Web site were compiled and written by Jeff Chester and Kathryn Montgomery for Berkeley Media Studies Group. The work was supported by The California Endowment, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for Digital Democracy, and Berkeley Media Studies Group. Graphic design by Linda Lawler.
Jeff Chester is founder and Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and a leading public-interest media advocate for more than twenty years. CDD is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting a democratic media system in the digital age. His book Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, was published in January 2007 by The New Press. He is also a frequent contributor to The Nation and other publications. In 1991, Chester co-founded the nonprofit Washington, D.C.-based Center for Media Education (CME), along with Kathryn Montgomery. He was also a co-founder of the Telecommunications Policy Roundtable, and helped write its groundbreaking set of principles for the digital age in 1993. During the debate on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, he played a key role in fighting proposed measures to deregulate ownership rules in the broadcasting, newspaper, and cable industries. In 1996, Newsweek named him one of the Internet's fifty most influential people. Chester launched CME's project on open access and the future of the Internet in 2000, transferring it to the Center for Digital Democracy when that organization was established in 2001. That same year, he was awarded a prestigious Public Interest Pioneer Grant from the Stern Family Fund. Among his many contributions to public interest media policy is the role he played in helping to frame the debate on the issue of network neutrality—a key principle designed to ensure that the Internet remains a democratic medium.
Under Chester's leadership, CDD helped organize a national campaign during 2001-2003 opposing plans by the FCC to eliminate key media ownership safeguards. He also led the effort to protect the editorial integrity of public broadcasting, helping it fend off criticism from then-chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson. Tomlinson was eventually forced to resign.
Prior to his media policy career, Chester was a psychiatric social worker, investigative journalist, and documentary filmmaker. His work has appeared on PBS, NPR and in many print publications. He was one of the leaders of the policy campaign that established the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and also co-founded the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, an artists' rights advocacy group. He received his MSW in Community Mental Health from UC Berkeley in 1978 and his BA in psychology from California State University, San Francisco in 1975.
Kathryn Montgomery is a Professor in the School of Communication at American University. Before returning to full-time teaching in 2003, she was President of the DC-based Center for Media Education (CME), which she co-founded with Jeff Chester in 1991. During her 12-year tenure at CME, Montgomery's research, publications, and testimony helped frame the national public policy debate on a range of critical media issues. She led a coalition of child advocacy, health, and education groups in a series of successful advocacy campaigns, leaving behind a legacy of policies on behalf of children and families. They include: a Federal Communications Commission rule requiring a minimum of three hours per week of educational/informational television programming for children; a content-based ratings system for TV programs; and the first federal legislation to protect children's privacy on the Internet—the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
In the early 90s, Montgomery was a media studies professor at California State University, Los Angeles, and at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she developed new curricula in television history and criticism, and conducted research on the intersection of politics, regulatory policy, and content in the media. Her book, Target: Prime Time - Advocacy Groups and the Struggle over Entertainment Television (Oxford University Press, 1989), was the first study to document the efforts of a variety of issue groups to influence television programming.
As director of the Youth, Media, and Democracy Project at American University, Montgomery conducts ongoing research on the uses of technology by young people, and assesses the major technology, economic, and policy trends affecting the future of digital media. With support from the Ford and Surdna Foundations, she produced a groundbreaking report in 2004, "Youth as E-Citizens," which documented the variety of ways that youth are using the Internet for politics and civic engagement. Montgomery is a contributing scholar to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation initiative on Digital Media and Learning. She is author of Generation Digital: Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet, MIT Press, 2007.
BMSG was founded in 1993 to help public health advocates make their voices heard in a powerful public forum—the news—and increase their participation in the democratic process. Public health groups come to BMSG when they want to work more effectively with journalists, and journalists come to BMSG when they are interested in deepening their reporting on public health issues.
BMSG's work is anchored in a public health approach and based on empirical studies of the media environment. BMSG conducts and commissions research on how news, entertainment, and advertising present health and social issues. BMSG studies the process of news gathering, analyzes media content, and writes case studies. Part of BMSG's applied research program includes publishing framing memos, which examine how controversial public health issues are discussed in the news. These memos clarify the arguments for and against issues so that advocates learn to understand the continuum of debate and anticipate opposing viewpoints. BMSG's case studies tell stories of how local groups apply media advocacy to change policy. BMSG's content analyses are in-depth studies of scientifically selected samples of news, entertainment or advertising. They help public health advocates and journalists understand the information the public receives about health issues from the media, and help identify what, if anything, is missing from the picture the media present. The research supports BMSG's training and strategic consultation for public health advocates and the professional education it conducts for journalists.
BMSG has worked with community groups, foundations, government, and news organizations across the country on a range of public health issues, including affirmative action, affordable housing, alcohol, child care, childhood lead poisoning, children's health, health disparities, nutrition and activity, sexually transmitted disease, tobacco, tuberculosis, and violence and injury prevention. BMSG is regarded as the leading public health media advocacy organization in the U.S. BMSG's publications are available at bmsg.org.
BMSG is a project of the Public Health Institute based in Oakland, California. PHI is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation, and around the world. PHI houses a variety of local, statewide, national and international public health research and education projects.
Linda Lawler's particular interest lies in the appearance and function of information and ideas: Do you want to read it? Is it easy understand? She has a degree in fine art and has taught typography and graphic design at the California College of Arts in San Francisco.
Studio 678 Web Design & Development is a Web site design and development firm located in Oakland, California specializing in new media to enhance web communication for small businesses and non-profits.