Michael Powell Blogs? Not quite.

The blogosphere is a buzz that FCC Don Michael Powell has started a blog with the stated purpose

“to hear from the tech community directly and to try to get beyond the traditional inside the Beltway Washington world where lobbyists filter the techies. I am looking forward to an open, transparent and meritocracy-based communication—attributes that bloggers are famous for!”

First, I’m going to have to be nit-picky and point out that this is not a blog. It’s a series of columns that Powell’s writing as a run-up to the AO2004 Innovation Summit at Stanford University, where Powell is keynote speaker. There’s no indication that Powell can post short comments at will at 3 AM. The only thing that is remotely blog-like is the fact that the columns are open to comments — but that’s a feature very non-bloggish sites like CNN and MSNBC have had for regular articles for years.

Now, as for the content, it’s the usual Powell-speak we’ve gotten used to over the last 4 years, although he is making some attempt to speak to the topics his commenters bring up, if not the specific concerns that are individually raised.

Regarding media consolidation, Powell writes:

“The challenge for the technocrat (that is me) is not whether we believe in the risk of excess concentration, but where you draw the line. Diversity values are important, but they do not lend themselves to mathematical precision. It is not easy to figure out whether you need 5 stations in a market, or only 4 before diversity is compromised.”

Yes, Michael, you can’t boil down diversity to a simple (simplistic) mathematical formula. That’s one of the reasons the Third Circuit Court slapped down your half-baked tray of research intended to substantiate your barely-half-baked media ownership rules revision.

It seems to be your utter failure to comprehend the world of qualitative analysis that underlies your FCC’s inability to effectively review the media ownership regs.

This isn’t to say that we have to reject the world of the quantitative — eventually there will have to be some mathematical limits expressed, such as no company can own more than X percent of the media outlets in a given market. But these limits can be reasoned and defended more subtantively than the FCC has so far using bone-headed metrics like the “diversity index,” which only counts the number of independently owned media outlets, without paying any mind to the size, reach and audience size of these outlets (all of which can be counted quantitatively, and evaluated qualitatively so that they might be weighted, resulting in a more defensible analysis).

I think it’s time to send Mikey Powell back to college to learn some research methods.