The Federal Communications Commission’s announcement last week that it will pursue a “Third Way” approach to its oversight of broadband networks has stirred up intense reactions among stakeholders. It is a monumental decision.
On Thursday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski blinked. He balked. He backed away from phone and cable companies and moved toward broadband policies that will preserve the open Internet and promote universal access.
Last month, a court case brought by Comcast revoked the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate Internet service providers. This decision placed President Obama’s key technology priorities -- like bringing fast, affordable, neutral Internet into every home -- on the edge of a precipice.
Journalists are paid to be more connected and tuned in than the average person. A paradox of the modern news business is that, whether by accident or design, journalists are a highly cloistered bunch.
In the interests of objectivity, we have put ourselves at a remove from the communities in which we live--choosing instead to work the phones and computers from cubicles in newsrooms, and to head out to the streets when we have information to gather. There are many exceptions to this. But in my experience, this is how it is in most newsrooms.
At a distance, our audience becomes an abstraction. We unwittingly design our coverage for our fellow editors and reporters, not for an audience whose unmet information needs we should know intimately and seek to fill.
Today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski received a strong message from Congress: Do whatever it takes to protect the Internet and put the FCC's authority over Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T back on firm legal ground.
Most people, from local citizens to working journalists, foundations to academics, policy makers and even some publishers, agree that the business model for journalism is broken. The experimentation we are seeing emerge at the local, state and national level is encouraging, but also highlights the fact that commercial media is failing to meet the information needs of communities.
Well, it appears the president is now content not only to take a backseat, but willing to hand the keys over to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and let him drive the entire Obama broadband agenda off a cliff.