In 2007, Common Sense Media and the Aspen Institute convened leaders in public health and education, policy-makers and media executives to explore ways of creating a healthier media environment for children and their families.
Common Sense Media, based in San Francisco, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to improve the media and entertainment lives of children and families. The Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue.
The conference — titled "Beyond Primetime: Will Media Help Grow Healthier Kids? Stay Tuned" — took place February 5–6, 2007, in New York. The conference drew 265 people from 167 organizations, including the New York Times, Columbia University, Nickelodeon, MTV Networks and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). See the Appendix for a list of some of the organizations represented.
Key themes of the conference included:
- The media as parent.
- What is the responsibility of media leaders?
- Should media be regulated when it comes to kids?
- Keeping kids healthy in a 24/7 environment.
- Media, kids and ethics.
- Does the internet change everything?
- Good media for kids can make a difference.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this unsolicited project through a grant of $50,000.
Additional funding totaling approximately $150,000 was provided by First Republic Bank, Google, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the Delaney Family Foundation Fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Capital Source, Farallon Capital Management and zoo.com (Infospace).
After the Grant
According to the project director, specific examples of activities influenced by the conference include:
- FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate is using the power of the FCC to encourage industry-backed initiatives to improve the media landscape for children, including asking Common Sense Media to join the FCC's Obesity Task Force in an effort to build consensus regarding voluntary steps and goals that the public and private sectors can take to combat childhood obesity.
- Several of the cable and entertainment CEOs that participated in the conference have stepped up their commitments to media education for kids and families.
- Common Sense Media is working with a conference panelist to establish "Media Monday," a national day of messaging via broadcast programming and public service announcements (PSAs) to raise awareness about the importance of media in the lives of kids and what parents and schools can do to improve the media landscape.
- The conference spurred a working group within the Alliance for a Media Literate America to redefine their core beliefs and strategies to begin developing a comprehensive media literacy program. The Denver-based Alliance for a Media Literate America is a national membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of media literacy education.
Common Sense Media is planning a second conference covering similar themes, to be held in 2009.