Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Parker Lecture Announces 2015 Honorees

danah boyd, INTERNATIONAL EXPERT ON TEENS AND SOCIAL MEDIA,
TO DELIVER 33rd ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE;
JOSEPH TORRES AND WALLY BOWEN TO BE HONORED

danah boyd, founder of named by Fortune magazine in 2010 as “the smartest academic in tech,” will deliver the 33rd annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Communication Lecture and Joseph Torres and Wally Bowen will be honored at the 2015 Parker Lecture and Breakfast. The event, organized by the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc., will be held at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G St. NW, Washington, DC.

danah boyd describes herself  as “both an activist and a scholar” whose “research examines the intersection between technology and society.” With degrees from Brown, MIT and UC Berkeley, she is a visiting professor at New York University and a faculty affiliate at Harvard. Dr. boyd’s newest research focuses on the intersection of civil rights and big data analytics.  For over a decade, she focused on how young people use social media as part of their everyday practices. She documented her findings in two books: Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (2009) and It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (2014). Dr. boyd’s more recent work centers on the social and cultural dimensions of the "big data" phenomenon, with an eye to issues such as privacy and the civil rights implications of data analytics.  She is also a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder of Data & Society Research Institute.  She has worked as an ethnographer and social media researcher for various corporations, including Intel, Tribe.net, Google, and Yahoo! and serves on the board or advises Crisis Text Line, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 

Joseph Torres, senior external affairs director of Free Press, advocates in Washington to ensure that our nation’s media and telecom policies serve the public interest. He works closely with racial and media justice groups to ensure their voices are heard on key policy debates in the struggle for a more just and equitable media system.  Torres will receive the Everett C. Parker Award, given in recognition of an individual whose work embodies the principles and values of the public interest in telecommunications and the media.  He writes frequently on media and Internet issues and is also the co-author of The New York Times bestseller News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media.” The book documents the harms caused to communities of color by the media as well as the struggle waged by people of color for a just media system. Torres also serves on the board of directors of the Center for Media Justice and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. Before joining Free Press, Torres worked as deputy director of the National Association of Hispanic journalists.

Wally Bowen, a nationally-known advocate for local self-reliance via local ownership of media infrastructure, will receive the Donald H. McGannon Award. This year’s McGannon award is being given in recognition of Wally’s dedication to bringing modern telecommunications to low-income people in rural areas. He is the co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, N.C., a nonprofit internet service provider that offers internet service in western North Carolina. He is also the founder of the low power FM station WPVM and a former member of the North Carolina Rural Internet Access Authority. Wally’s vision and commitment to serving underserved people in rural areas inspired him to create MAIN in 1996 when only two counties in western North Carolina were served by commercial Internet Service Providers. He also led a decade-long effort to create the first public access TV channel in the mountain region of North Carolina. In these roles and others, Wally advocates that media reform needs to be accountable to our communities. He was an early advocate of locally-owned “middle-mile” fiber networks, such as ERC Broadband and Pangaea, while representing western North Carolina on the N.C. Rural Internet Access Authority. Bowen is the author of Local Network Cookbook (2009).

The Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, founder of OC, Inc., and his pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The event is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective. Past speakers have included network presidents, Congressional leaders, and FCC chairs and commissioners, as well as academics, cable and telephone executives and journalists. More information is available at bit.ly/parkerlecture2015.
 
The Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination with more than 1 million members and nearly 5,200 local congregations nationwide, recognizes the unique power of the media to shape public understanding and thus society as a whole. For this reason, the UCC’s OC, Inc. has worked since its founding in 1959 to create just and equitable media structures that give a meaningful voice to diverse peoples, cultures and ideas.

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United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.
Cheryl A. Leanza, media contact
202-904-2168
cleanza@alhmail.com

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Faithful Internet: A Big Week!

For the last nine months, UCC OC Inc. has been collaborating with faith people of faith and faith leaders around the country in our Faithful Internet campaign, co-led by me and Valarie Kaur, lawyer, faith leader and filmmaker extraordinaire. It has been a great privilege to see so many faith leaders consider, some for the first time, the importance of an open Internet for their work as clergy and as social justice advocates. Our work culminated this week in a social media Thunderclap campaign reaching over a million people, delivery of faith leader testimonials and our Groundswell petition signed by more than 1200 people, and release of Valarie's beautiful video First We Pray, Then We Organize, which is featured on Huffington Post today. We have been joined on this journey by so many allies, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to Rev. William Barber, II to Rev. Otis Moss III.

 

The video, petitions, testimonials and campaigns all have one central message: communities of faith and social justice advocates cannot perform their work in the 21st century without a free and open Internet. Without net neutrality, which the FCC adopted this year, faith leaders and institutions would have to pay for their websites and their content to have equal and fair treatment on the Internet. Without net neutrality content by civil rights and social justice leaders will be trapped behind the "buffering wheel of death" while commercial content and well-financed content will be easily and readily accessible. 

 

This morning, I was joined by my colleagues in the United Church of Christ, both local and national leaders, as well as the Media Action Grassroots Network and one of our Faithful Internet fellows. We visited with the Policy Director and Director of External Affairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, asking them to convey to the current chair of the CBC, Congressman Butterfield, that we are concerned about Rep. Butterfield's position on net neutrality. Late last year, President Obama proclaimed his continued support of a full and robust net neutrality, and in February 2015, the FCC voted to adopt strong rules protecting us. Since then, opponents of net neutrality have been advocating for Congressional legislation to weaken the FCC's decision. While the Democratic caucus has stood behind the Obama FCC, Congressman Butterfield has stated publicly he supports an effort in this Congress to change the FCC's decision. We have little hope that the current Congress could ever adopt protections as strong as the rules adopted by the current FCC, and we're very concerned that this Congress-- which has not proven to be a friend of social justice issues--not be permitted to replace false protections with strong ones. 

 

Of course, members are always going to be willing to have a dialogue with their colleagues, without those civil conversations our democracy will only become more partisan and more craven. But we hope none of our leaders will be fooled by efforts to undermine Net Neutrality disguised as compromise. Although today its opponents file their legal attacks in court, the FCC's decision was strong, legally sound, and done with fealty to the law which mandates that all people in the U.S. should receive fair and equal access to communications technology. No less is required.

 

We hope the Congressman Butterfield, as chair of the CBC, will follow the lead of caucus members and great heroes like Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Chaka Fattah and Senator Booker who have led the way and supported strong Net Neutrality protections. The great civil rights victories of the future depend on it.

 

Video briefings, webinars, resources and opportunities to take action are all available at faithfulinternet.org.

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Lifeline Expansion for Affordable Broadbland

In advance of the Federal Communications Commission vote to initiate a proceeding to consider the modernization of the low-income Lifeline program, Cheryl A. Leanza, policy advisor to the United Church of Christ's media justice ministry issued the following statement:
 
We are delighted that the FCC is taking this important step.  The Lifeline program has been successful since 1985 to help ensure low-income people have access to essential communications services.  Broadband is now an essential service, without which we cannot fully participate in society.  Along with our colleagues in the civil rights community, we have been asking the FCC to modernize the Lifeline program to support broadband since 2010.  The FCC should act swiftly to modernize Lifeline this year.

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Parker Lecture 2015 Lecturer Announced

danah boyd, INTERNATIONAL EXPERT ON TEENS AND SOCIAL MEDIA,
TO DELIVER 33rd ANNUAL EVERETT C. PARKER LECTURE

danah boyd, named by Fortune magazine in 2010 as “the reigning expert on how young people use the Internet,” will deliver the 33rd annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Communication Lecture at the 2015 Parker Lecture and Breakfast.

The event, organized by the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc., will be held at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G St. NW, Washington, DC.

At her core, danah boyd describes herself as “both an activist and a scholar” whose “research examines the intersection between technology and society.” With degrees from Brown, MIT and UC Berkeley, she is a visiting professor at New York University and a faculty affiliate at Harvard. For over a decade, her research focused on how young people use social media as part of their everyday practices. She documented her findings in two books: “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media” (2009) and “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” (2014). She is also a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder of Data & Society Research Institute. “danah boyd brings a different perspective on current social media trends and the future of American society than we’re used to confronting,” says Earl Williams, OC, Inc. Board Chair. “Her thoughtful insights will both enlighten and challenge our audience.”

The Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, founder of OC, Inc., and his pioneering work as an advocate for the public's rights in broadcasting. The event is the only lecture in the country to examine telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective. Past speakers have included network presidents, Congressional leaders, and FCC chairs and commissioners, as well as academics, cable and telephone executives and journalists. More information is available at bit.ly/ParkerLecture2015.
 
The Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination with more than 1 million members and nearly 5,200 local congregations nationwide, recognizes the unique power of the media to shape public understanding and thus society as a whole. For this reason, the UCC’s OC, Inc. has worked since its founding in 1959 to create just and equitable media structures that give a meaningful voice to diverse peoples, cultures and ideas.
 
United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.
Cheryl A. Leanza, media contact
202-904-2168
cleanza@alhmail.com

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Broadband Adoption Act Introduced

In response to the introduction of the Broadband Adoption Act today, the following can be attributed to Cheryl Leanza, policy advisor to UCC OC Inc.:

I welcome today's introduction of the Broadband Adoption Act.  Congresswoman Matsui, Senator Murphy and Senator Booker, along with all the Act's co-sponsors, deserve praise.  This proposed legislation is timely in light of the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming proceeding considering modernization of the Lifeline program. 

Universalizing broadband adoption is critical-- broadband is essential for every aspect of modern life.  As I said last week, affordable access is the linchpin to digital literacy and relevance and hence it is the key to adoption. Universal Adoption is the key to individual and national economic security.

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