Jeff Chester

Jeff Chester is the executive director of the Center for Media Education.

Recent Articles

Whose First Amendment?

With the rise of so-called reality television in recent years (proving that truth is tawdrier than fiction, too), it might well be asked what all of the TV writers are up to these days. Some, it would seem, have lent their fertile imaginations to a TV-industry lobbying and litigation campaign that, like the medium itself, often strains credulity. How else to explain industry's argument that the modest federal caps on ownership of stations and other media outlets violate corporate free-speech rights? Never mind the public's right to "the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources," in the words of the Supreme Court, which in 1945 deemed that such a free flow of information is "essential" to our welfare. That principle, apparently, is now to be superseded by a corporation's right to corner whatever markets it can. This raises the specter that other media will follow the path of radio and publishing toward oligopoly. Five conglomerates command 80...

End of the Open Road?

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me ... --Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road With apologies to Walt Whitman, whose "barbaric yawp" anticipated Internet chat groups and the World Wide Web by well over a century, the information superhighway may turn out to be nothing like the open road that the poet celebrated in 1856. That transcendent pathway, according to Whitman, held out the promise of boundless possibilities, countless destinations: "The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose." Not so the latter-day, digital counterpart of the open road, at least not in its newest broadband incarnation. As the system is now shaping up, the most popular means for Americans to access the Internet from their homes in coming decades seems likely to be through high-speed cable networks. But if the cable industry has its way--and under current regulations it will--cable Internet access will turn out to be as tightly controlled as cable...