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JOSH STEARNS FROM FREE PRESS IS THE PCA INFORMAL LECTURE SERIES SPEAKER IN FALL 2012

Josh Stearns, a journalism and public media campaign director working for the advocacy group Free Press, delivers the Fall 2012 PCA lecture on October 16 at 7:00 p.m. in Sykes Formal Lounge.

Stearns, who graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2000, points out that the upcoming 2012 electoral campaign will be the most expensive election in the history of U.S. politics. It comes at a time when the media is in a profound state of transition. It's the first presidential election after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and more than $3 billion is projected to be spent on local TV ads in 2012 alone. Instead of exposing this runaway spending and fact-checking the many falsehoods spread via political ads in an election year, too many local stations are merely lining their pockets with the windfall from this massive ad buy.

As the landscape of journalism shifts, major daily newspapers are closing their doors and media consolidation continues to put more and more radio and TV stations in the hands of just a few corporations. At the same time vibrant new online start-ups are emerging and mobile apps are delivering a world of news to our finger tips. In the space between old-school media giants and innovative digital projects local communities are facing an unprecedented information gap. How can better media lead to better elections? How can media policy and citizen action help meet the information needs of society and advance a more open democracy? What policy debates happening right now will shape the future of the Internet, journalism and media? This year represents a historic opportunity to advance reforms that better expose the political money and address the media's faltering role in our democracy.

As a Campaign Director at Free Press, Stearns runs national advocacy campaigns to amplify the voice of local people in the policy debates that shape our media. For the past year he has been tracking journalist arrests and press suppression across the US, an effort that earned him Storify "Story of the Year" and the Lew Hill Media Ally Award for his use of cutting edge technology and First Amendment advocacy. Stearns is the author of numerous reports on journalism, media consolidation and public media, and speaks regularly about activism, journalism, sustainability and democracy.

Stearns' articles have appeared in Mother Jones, Orion Magazine, Yes Magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review. Before joining Free Press. He coordinated policy and communications efforts for service-learning and higher education organizations. Stearns has served on the boards of the Student Conservation Association, the Educators for Community Engagement and the Valley Land Fund.

After earning a B.A. in English from St. Lawrence University in 2000, Stearns obtained an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.