Churches Unite To Weigh In On Media Issues

"So We Might See" campaign fights for high speed broadband access, weighs in on other issues
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Church congregations around the country are being asked to join a campaign for "media Justice."

In the near-term, that justice is being defined as high-speed broadband access, but the campaign also plans to weigh in on other media issues, including network neutrality and media violence.

Leading the charge is a familiar group, the United Church Of Christ Office of Communication, which has long pushed for more and different kids programming and against licensees they thought were not upholding the public interest.

The new campaign, dubbed "So We Might See" (www.SoWeMightSee.org ), is joined by a coalition of faith groups that includes the National Council of Churches, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mennonite Media, and the United Methodist Communications.

The campaign was launched Tuesday with Bring Betty Broadband, which includes a video showing the impact of slow, dial-up access (www.BringBettyBroadband.org). There is also an online letter targeted to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Commerce's NTIA is overseeing billions in broadband stimulus funds.

The coalition wants more computer education, higher-speed access, and a systematic government program to insure "the fundamental right to communicate," which it argues "is meaningless without high speed Internet access."

The group asks Locke to "to promote digital inclusion initiatives to stimulate broadband demand and ensure that all U.S. residents have access to the digital skills and equipment necessary to take advantage of the Internet's enormous potential benefits."

Those would include "local or national digital inclusion councils," which they say would work with agencies. They also call for a "media literacy curriculum" for secondary schools, and "a more robust infrastructure is needed for distributing computers and training and keeping in touch with people over time as their skills increase and they desire more knowledge."

But the coalition is looking broader than broadband. They pledge to use "edgy viral campaigns" to engage their members in a "political education and advocacy" effort on a number of media issues, including individual campaigns on "Internet freedom, media violence and overcommercialization."

The coalition says it is planning a Sept. 30 gathering in New York.

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