Free Press (organization)

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Free Press
Example logo
Type Advocacy
Key people Robert W. McChesney (co-founder)
Craig Aaron (president and CEO)
Kimberly Longey (chief operating officer)
Timothy Karr (senior director of strategy)
Employees Approx. 30

Free Press is a nonpartisan organization fighting for people's rights to connect and communicate. Free Press works to save the free and open Internet, curb runaway media consolidation, protect press freedom, and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media.

Free Press was co-founded in 2003 by media scholar Robert W. McChesney, The Nation contributor John Nichols, and Josh Silver, current CEO of United Republic, a foundation challenging the influence of special interests over government policymaking. Craig Aaron is Free Press' current president and CEO, and Kimberly Longey is the COO. Its board chair is former National Organization for Women head Kim Gandy.

Today Free Press is the largest nonprofit organization devoted to media, technology and democracy in the United States.[1][2] with 750,000 activists and a full-time staff of about 30 based in offices in Washington, D.C., and Florence, Mass.[2]

Free Press is also the organizer of the National Conference for Media Reform,[3] which is held in a different part of the U.S. every few years and generally attracts about 2,500 attendees.

The media reform movement focuses on changing public policy to bring about a more democratic media system. Free Press is the principal organizer of the movement, which generally "addresses the effects of a for-profit media system that increasingly fails to fulfill the communications needs of democratic society."[4] The movement really began to take shape in the latter half of 2003, galvanized by controversial orders passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[5]

Outreach and issues[edit]

Free Press also has an advocacy arm, the Free Press Action Fund. Both accept no money from business, government or political parties and rely on the support of individuals, foundations and public charities. Free Press frequently challenges the Federal Communications Commission to better protect the public interest and is currently pushing the FCC to pass rules that protect real Net Neutrality. Here are short descriptions of Free Press' main areas of focus:[2]

Media Consolidation Free Press opposes media mergers that create monopolies and hurt the public interest.

Public Media Public media refers to publicly funded media outlets like PBS and NPR as well as local community media and PEG (public, education, government) media stations. Free Press believes in the need for strong independent media outlets and advocates for policies to support noncommercial media.[6]

The Future of the Internet Free Press is a leader in the fight to save the Internet. Current campaigns focus on Net Neutrality and universal access to fast, open and accessible Internet service. The organization fights to protect Net Neutrality and free speech online.[7]

Quality Journalism Free Press argues that we need media policies that promote quality news, spark innovation, protect journalists, and create a media system that serves the public interest.

Civil Rights & Media Justice Free Press argues that little of what is seen and heard in the media is actually produced by diverse communities. The result is stereotypical coverage and reports lacking in vital information and viewpoints. Free Press works to promote public policies that foster greater media diversity. Free Press also advocates for universal access to the free and open Internet and the end of the digital divide. Media companies should be held accountable, Free Press argues, for serving their communities.

National Conference for Media Reform[edit]

Free Press organizes the National Conference for Media Reform,[3] the nation's biggest and best conference devoted to media, technology and democracy. Activists, journalists, policymakers, technologists, media makers and artists gather to strategize, share skills and inspire during three days of workshops, panels, keynote speeches, performances and parties. Past conferences have been held in Denver (2013), Boston (2011), Minneapolis (2008), Memphis (2007), St. Louis (2005) and Madison, Wis. (2003). The conference features scores of panel discussions, a film festival, tech workshops, music performances, poetry readings, book signings and more.


Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund are supported by individual donors, foundations and public charities. They do not accept funds from business, government or political parties.[8]


Free Press was essential in pushing AT&T to abandon its bid to take over T-Mobile.[9] This merger would have left just two providers (AT&T and Verizon) in control of nearly 80 percent of the wireless market. Free Press has also successfully sued the FCC when it has attempted to weaken its media ownership rules. In 2012 the organization mounted its latest campaign to push the FCC to preserve existing ownership limits and expand ownership opportunities for women and people of color.

Board of Directors[edit]

Kim Gandy

Gandy, Free Press Board Chair, is the president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She previously served as the vice president and general counsel at the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation, and as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) from 2001-2009.[10]

Craig Aaron

Aaron took the leadership of Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund in April 2011. Craig joined Free Press in 2004 and speaks across the country on media, Internet and journalism issues.[11]

Michael Copps

Michael Copps is a former commissioner and acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, where he served from 2001–2011.[12]

Olga M. Davidson

Davidson is a visiting associate professor in the Middle Eastern Studies program at Wellesley College and also serves as chair of the board at the Ilex Foundation.[10]

Robert W. McChesney

McChesney co-founded Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund along with John Nichols and Josh Silver in 2002. He is a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author or editor of 13 on media and democracy.[10]

John Nichols

Nichols is the Nation's Washington correspondent and editorial-page editor of the Capital Times in Madison, Wis.[11]

Liza Pike

Pike is the founder of Resource Media's California office and also serves on the board of the Center for Media Change.[10]

Josh Silver (emeritus)

Silver co-founded Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund with Robert McChesney and John Nichols in 2002. He served as CEO and president of Free Press and president of the board of directors of the Free Press Action Fund until 2011.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kang, Cecilia (28 March 2008). "Net Neutrality's Quiet Crusader: Free Press's Ben Scott Faces Down Titans, Regulators in Battle Over Internet Control". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund: Free Press Basics". Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "National Conference for Media Reform". 
  4. ^ Wolf, Brenna. "Media Reform" in Battleground: The Media, Vol. 1. Robin Andersen and Jonathan Alan Gray, eds. ABC-CLIO, 2008, p. 247.
  5. ^ Skinner, David (2005). Converging Media, Diverging Politics. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. p. 187. ISBN 0-7391-0827-1. 
  6. ^ "Public Media". Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Future of the Internet "Future of the Internet". Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Free Press Donate". Free Press. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Big Win! AT&T Drops Its T-Mobile Takeover Bid". 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Boards of Directors". Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Retrieved April 26, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Free Press website. Retrieved April 26, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]