Still, despite the evolving openness to the idea of governmental involvement in news…this is precarious ground. A fact that Genachowski, in the FCC press release, acknowledges—and, in some ways, assuages:

“A strong consensus has developed that we’re at a pivotal moment in the history of the media and communications, because of game-changing new technologies as well as the economic downturn,” said Genachowski. “Highly respected entities have called on the FCC to assess these issues. At such a moment, it is important to ensure that our policies promote a vibrant media landscape that furthers long-standing goals of serving the information needs of communities. The initiative is intended to identify the best ideas for achieving those goal, while recognizing that government must be scrupulous in abiding by the First Amendment and never dictating or controlling the content of the news or other communications protected by the First Amendment.”

Waldman provides a similar reassurance on the matter: “Most solutions,” he said, “will come from the private and nonprofit sectors.”

But government rules already affect the media landscape in profound ways so it’s imperative that we both vigorously protect the First Amendment and determine which media policies make sense, which don’t. Unwise government policies can undermine business models and hinder innovation. Smart policy can help businesses, facilitate innovation, and ensure a thriving media marketplace.”

Amen.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.