The Allied Media Conference  is a unique gathering for some of the most passionate media activists from across the country. The conference is one of the few spaces where the role of media is fully analyzed: its applications in our everyday lives, its impact on other social justice issues, and the public policies affecting us all. This year, I was lucky to get a chance to discuss the latter — specifically the importance of state legislation in this effort — as a Media Action Grassroots Network delegate. My goal was to remind attendees that, as the most involved advocates in their communities, they have the power to shape the policy that is created at the state and local level.
In pioneering innovative policies, building momentum, or simply shifting the national debate, local and state legislation has always mattered. We don’t need to look too far back into history to see how laws that have been enacted nationally or that stirred some of the heaviest controversies were first carried out by one single state. It was in Massachusetts where the precursor of our current federal health care law was first tested, and Arizona provided a destructive well-known legislative example on immigration reform. Similarly, media grassroots and policy organizations need to look to state legislation to get a truly comprehensive view on the different ways that media policy is shaped.
Among the lessons learned at this year’s conference were that the best state legislation assesses broadband needs, determines the build-out of critical infrastructure, and conducts short-term and long-term planning for Internet access. Some of the important decision makers in state broadband policy include state legislators, Public Utility Commissions, and Attorneys General – all of whom have a role to play in expanding access to the critical infrastructure that is broadband. And in building a campaign to promote open access to the Internet, advocates must reach out to a wide range of allies: small businesses, technologists, as well as teachers and librarians.
For more information about broadband policies at the state level, check out PSN’s Broadband Policy Options Report .