October 1, 2011

Snarked on Net Neutrality

I've written before about Net Neutrality, and probably a quarter of my tweets relate to the issue. The FCC's Net Neutrality rules just went into effect, and Free Press is one of several entities to file suit against the FCC. The rules, you see, don't provide for true Net Neutrality; while they address the issue where land-based computers are concerned, they don't for wireless.

It's hard to get a handle on how much profit Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint make per cellular customer, but enough is never really enough, is it? AT&T recently eliminated the ability to buy a limited number of texts in favor of a $20.00 option for unlimited texts. I believe wireless companies make approximately a 10,000% texting profit. Another example: When I tried to change our existing plan to less than 700 minutes, I learned the 400 minute option—which would have worked for us as our daughter does most of her talking at night and on weekends— had disappeared. Like restaurants charging more for ever-larger plates, cellular providers are closing out less expensive options in favor of larger profits. And as there's so little competition, who's to stop them?

Free Press, a national, nonpartisan group working to reform media, sends out daily emails about media-related news. Many of those news items these days relate to the activities surrounding the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger (different filings made by AT&T as various items have leaked surrounding costs and jobs, lobbying money spent on Congress, unions, and corporations to win their support, and the recent Justice Department's Anti-Trust filing) to the fight for and against Net Neutrality.

I spend a lot of time reading articles linked to by Free Press in newspapers, magazines, online journals, The Huffington Post, etc., because the issue of Net Neutrality is important to me as a writer and former web publisher. You can imagine, then, that I was more than a little perturbed when I read the following headline yesterday on the Techland blog for @Time by @MattPeckham: Net Neutrality Proponents Sued by Net Neutrality Proponents? Though Peckham eventually cuts to the chase, it's not until four paragraphs in that he addresses the issue; until then the suit is made to sound frivolous and nonsensical. Here's the lead-in that follows the headline:

The folks who just officiated over net neutrality Internet regulations, the Federal Communications Commission, are being sued by—yep, the folks who fought to make net neutrality happen. Net neutrality's advocates suing net neutrality's enforcers?

True story.

Again, Peckham eventually makes Free Press' case, along with the FCC's response, but to me the article's headline, that snarky lead-in, and the lack of context related to the issue frustrated me. What's ultimately at stake is what the creators of the Internet envisioned, not a two-tiered system that cellular providers have already begun to force on customers.

It's clear that corporate interests already have a disproportionate impact on legislation, but articles like Peckham's do nothing to dispel the idea that corporate interests now infect journalism. The media bias I fear comes from corporate America, and that's what I worry filtered through into this particular article. "He said, he said" doesn't provide readers with the information they need to understand what's going on, any more than allowing politicians and their spin-meisters from making lies without being called on their bullshit because we've so perverted the concept of equal time that lies and reality now share the stage.

Yesterday I tweeted my displeasure and early today Matt Peckham answered me in a tweet. And then he snarked me by posting about a #Superficial #Reader" and linking back to his article on the Techland Blog. Ouch!


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