Mike Rispoli Promotes the Importance of Local News and Media

Mike Rispoli, Director of News Voices: New Jersey discusses the critical importance of local news, and why he believes the government should invest the profits from the sale of New Jersey’s old public-TV licenses to strengthen media throughout the state.







"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. Coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in Newark. We are pleased to welcome Mike Rispoli, Director of an organization called News Voices: New Jersey. Good to see you Mike. Thanks Steve for having me. News Voices: New Jersey is? Right. So News Voices: New Jersey is a project of Free Press. Free Press is a national media and technology advocacy organization that fights for the public's right to connect and communicate. So we work on a lot of different issues. Net neutrality, broadband access, and the future of journalism. And through the News Voices: New Jersey project, we look to build better relationships between local communities and the media outlets that serve them. Put this in perspective. The FCC had what is called a spectrum auction. Mm hmm. Of what? [laughter] And why does this matter? Sure. So for the past year the FCC has overseen the spectrum auction... The Federal Communications Commission? Yeah, the Federal Communications Commission has overseen the spectrum auction that you're talking about. Essentially, the FCC is trying to free up spectrum to expand wireless coverage, and as a part of that, they're incentivizing television stations to sell their broadcast licenses. And so New Jersey, since it used to own the New Jersey Network, actually owns public media broadcast licenses, and so New Jersey's been participating in this auction where they were looking to sell four licenses. Okay. So why does it matter to the citizens of New Jersey and to media entities in the state? Sure. So it matters because the state is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the sale of these licenses. And so what we're interested in seeing is can we find a way to take the hundreds of millions of dollars that are coming in and reinvest it back into supporting local journalism? The reason why we're focusing on this is because there's a local news crisis going on in New Jersey. There are fewer and fewer outlets every year. There are thousands of journalists that have been laid off in the past ten years. And there are huge pockets of the state that get little to no coverage whatsoever. And that's not just a problem for the journalism industry, it's really a problem for our communities. Lots of studies have shown what happens to communities when news coverage is deficient or disappears. Corruption increases, fewer people vote, fewer people volunteer, fewer people are civically engaged when there are fewer media outlets serving those communities. And so this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a huge amount of money to figure out..."