[caption id="attachment_791" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Consumerist.com's Ben Popken and Meghann Marco, recipients of this year's Parker Award."][/caption] By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud Last Thursday, NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg and I traveled to the Riverside Church in New York City for the 27th Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Reception. The event, organized by the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc. in collaboration with the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), which is now part of NCL, honors those individuals and organizations that have promoted the public interest in telecommunications and broadcasting. We were excited this year to honor Ben Popken and Meghann Marco, the co-executive editors of Consumerist.com, the Internet’s preeminent consumer blog. Consumerist, now owned by Consumers Union, is one of the top 25 blogs on the Internet, and its 375,000 daily visitors outnumber the daily circulation of the Denver Post, Newsday, and the Boston Globe. Sally Greenberg’s remarks put the impact of the Consumerist best when she said:
“The Consumer Education Leadership Award, was created out of the belief that media advocacy and an informed and educated public go hand in hand. … Consumerist has been a catalyst for pro-consumer changes. Ben Popken and Meghann Marco” represent the ever evolving nature of consumer journalism. Through their contributions as Co-Executive Editors at The Consumerist blog, they have given consumers a powerful new voice. We honor Ben and Meghann for helping consumers tilt the balance of power in the marketplace back in their favor.”Ben and Meghann summed up what Consumerist has meant to the wider world of consumer journalism in their remarks:
“We see Consumerist's role as bringing the awesome power of the internet to bear on important consumer issues of the day and expose them to the spotlight of the over 2 million people who read us each month. We seek to create awareness, by unorthodox means if necessary.”
“The playing field is leveling. Consumers are forcing transparency on companies simply by connecting with each other. When consumers can easily compare notes, patterns emerge, which can then be acted on. These conversations are the first steps towards real change. In our 25 new stories each day, it is our privilege to try to help facilitate these discussions.”
The nation faces a critical moment. Consumers are strapped and seeking solutions. Desperate times invent desperate measures. In this environment, scams can take out super bowl ads and hide behind the skirt of their fine print, simply because they have the cash to burn.”To view a complete video of Ben and Meghann’s acceptance speech, click here. We were also excited that long-time NCL Board Member and TRAC Founder Sam Simon received the Donald C. McGannon Award at the Parker event. The McGannon Award recognizes those who have played a significant role in advancing the role of minorities in the communications and broadcasting industries.