MAP was more than just a media watchdog – it was a public interest law firm that went to court to fight for the public in cases involving the media in general and the First Amendment and diversity of information in particular. After almost 40 years, it is closing due to difficulties bringing in funding.
It said in a statement, “The Board of Directors of the Media Access Project announces that MAP will suspend operations, effective May 1, 2012. The Board reached its decision after evaluating the difficult funding environment facing MAP and other progressive public interest groups. The MAP Board expressed its deep appreciation and gratitude to all current and former foundation and Forum funders, individual donors, and staff for their support and dedication to the cause of MAP.”
MAP said it was particularly proud of its work in advocating a free and open internet.
It said one of its lasting legacies will be the “…the training and mentoring of a large cadre of public interest advocates. MAP alumni are founders, leaders, and providers of the expertise and savvy for multiple organizations working to promote a free and diverse marketplace of ideas and whose work will continue.”
President and CEO Craig Aaron of fellow watchdog Free Press stated, “When the Media Access Project launched in 1973, it created a media reform movement built on the civil rights movement and gave the public a voice in media policy. Andrew Jay Schwartzman is a true pioneer in media reform and advocacy, and his contributions to the field are countless. We thank him for his tireless efforts to represent those who didn’t have a voice in Washington and to make sure that the policies created at places like the FCC actually serve the people.”
American Cable Association’s Matt Polka also weighed in, saying, “The Media Access Project’s withdrawal from the public policy arena is sad news for everyone who admires this fine organization. Over nearly four decades, the public has greatly benefited from the group’s very effective advocacy, particularly with respect to its representation of resource-constrained clients who otherwise would not have a voice. The rulings in which MAP participated were often better because of its tireless efforts.”