Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T want to speed up voice and video applications while downgrading others. And while that might not seem as dramatic as outright blocking or slowing down their competitors’ applications, prioritization can still cause problems for Internet users.
The editors of the Columbia Journalism Review published an important editorial this week outlining why they feel public policy must be a central part of the discussion about the future of news in America.
They wrote: “The idea that a purely commercial media alone can continue to deliver the journalism we need is becoming difficult to swallow. If we don’t get beyond the rational but outdated fear of government help for accountability journalism—if we just let the market sort it out—this vital public good will continue to decline.”
The Internet is the writers’ inkwell. When consolidated publishing houses don’t consider our book pitches; when the top magazines present writers’ guidelines as a cruel joke; when Hollywood studios mop their floors with screenplays; and when news agencies operate on a skeleton crew of reporters, we can turn to the Internet.
In the fight for Net Neutrality, we can’t get lost in the nuance. Internet Service Providers would have us believe that certain types of network prioritization are innocuous. In truth, there’s a litany of hidden harms in any attempt to shape Internet traffic.
The largest Internet service providers have long paid lip service to connecting America’s rural areas to broadband, even as rural residents remain without service because these ISPs fail to connect them.
Last week, Free Press and SaveTheNews.org joined thousands of concerned citizens to file comments with the Federal Trade Commission on policy ideas to improve the future of journalism in America. The agency is collecting public comments in advance of its two-day workshop in December on the state of the news in our digital economy.
The high-profile workshop comes on the heels of a number of reports this year advocating for a central role for government in addressing the news and information needs of our communities.