Fake news is invading our airwaves, and the Federal Communications Commission is standing idly by as it happens. In an age when consumers can mute and fast-forward commercial breaks, advertisers are looking for ways to sell you products where you’re least expecting it: Embedded into your local news.
Over the past several years working for my local newspaper, I’ve witnessed an industry that carefully manages its news content and keeps it mostly close to home. It’s a kind of “closed loop” ideology that seems natural when the end product is a printed newspaper, with journalism and advertising bundled together in a physical package for delivery to readers.
This week, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on an item that could either open the door to a dream of vast economic growth, innovation and consumer benefits, or bury the dream out of excessive caution and concern for incumbent interests.
Exactly a year ago, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski made a major promise to deliver on Net Neutrality. "If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late," he told an influential audience in Washington.
This week Charter Communications, the fourth largest cable operator in the U.S., notified customers that a “broadcast TV surcharge” was being added to their bills (in St. Louis, one of the largest cities they operate in, the charge is 94 cents).
Oops. AT&T is publishing advertisements that in no way reflect the company’s true feelings and actions about Net Neutrality. The ads are published at the exact same moment the company’s lawyers and lobbyists are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to allow “paid prioritization" – the antithesis of the free-flowing Internet.
A year ago today – Sept. 16, 2009 –Denver was the epicenter of the debate over the future of news in America.
Some 200 people packed the Colorado History Museum downtown that night, in the middle of a workweek, and spent three hours passionately talking about how to save the news.
Some were community leaders or journalists. Most were concerned citizens. Many who attended the event sponsored by Free Press were still reeling from the shocking closure six months earlier of one of the nation’s great newspapers, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News.