“Why should we put our documents online if you won’t put yours on?” I’d ask.

And if the reporter dutifully responds, “that proposal would have imposed a costly burden!” I’d laugh and say, “Yeah, right. Same here.”

This isn’t just another same-old-same-old case of an industry opposing a disclosure regulation. An important statement from the deans of twelve leading journalism schools put it well: “Broadcast news organizations depend on, and consistently call for, robust open-record regimes for the institutions they cover; it seems hypocritical for broadcasters to oppose applying the same principle to themselves.”

Indeed, news organizations should be leading the efforts to make the political system more transparent—not fighting furiously to thwart such efforts.


Steven Waldman was senior advisor to the Chairman of the FCC and principal author of its report on the changing media landscape. He was chair of the Council on Foundations Working Group on Nonprofit Media and is a consultant to the Pew Research Center. Before that, he was the founder of Beliefnet.com and a national correspondent for Newsweek.