Posted in Uncategorized

Why Journalists Should Care About Today’s Net Neutrality Ruling

3183290111_989c5b1bec_b

Photo by Steve Rhode, via Flickr.

Internet service providers, like Verizon and Comcast, can give preference to some content owners over others or block them, a federal appeals court ruled this morning.

Quite simply, this means Internet service providers can pick and choose the content consumers see and how they see it. The ruling, Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, is a setback to what is more commonly called, “net neutrality,” the principal that Internet service providers should enable equal access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

The court states that the Federal Communications Act does not allow the FCC to force internet service providers to make their networks open to all.

Why should journalists and journalism organizations care?  For independent or small-scale content owners, this ruling means it will be that much harder to reach the consumers they’re targeting. For news organizations, already strapped for cash, this means either now having to pay to play on the information super highway in order to reach consumers, or worse,  having your content blocked because the Internet service provider favors another company over yours.

“This ruling means there is no one who can protect us from ISPs that block or discriminate against websites, applications or services,” according to media advocacy organization Free Press in an email blast about the ruling. Free Press has been warning of the threat for more than a year.

The court did allow that Internet service providers will have to disclose their practices to users. During the holidays, Republican members of Congress announced plans to update the federal communications law by offering a more modern one that takes into account the changing media landscape, they said.

Congress first passed the Communications Act of 1934, which created the FCC to encourage and regulate electronic communication in the United States; the law was revised in 1996. Signed by then-President Bill Clinton, the initial purpose of the current law was to deregulate the converging broadcast and telecommunications industries.

Under a more modern communications law, Congress could give the FCC power to make and enforce rules that would require telecom companies to keep their networks open. Or Congress can bend to the will of the telecom lobby and allow the court’s ruling to usher in a new era of unequal access to the internet. Public hearings on this matter promise to be top news in months to come.

UPDATE: This afternoon Comcast released a statement that the cable provider would continue to play by open internet rules, at least through 2018, per an agreement it made with the government when it merged with NBCUniversal.

Note: This story is developing; it will update once I read the ruling further. 

Tracie Powell is co-chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She writes about the media and media policy issues. 

Advertisements
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

Calendar of Multimedia Training and Events

JANUARY

  • A smart CEO (that is you freelancer and independent worker!) understands the value of setting goals for the New Year to move his or her business to the next level. The process involves a fair amount of introspection into values, visions, strengths and weaknesses. Serial media entrepreneur Hannes Luth of Wunderbar Media will help you map out your 2014 goals in a three-hour interactive workshop,  Setting Business Goals for 2014: Interactive Workshop for Self-employed Professionals, sponsored by the NPC Journalism Institute. The session will give you an overview of what business goal setting is, how to identify and set realistic and attainable goals, and show you how to organize your tasks in a way that ensures success. The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Jan. 17. Registration is $20 for NPC members; $40 public.

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Investigating the Business of Government,” Jan. 23, 2014, preceding the Winter Convention of the Kentucky Press Association Jan. 23-24. If you dread analyzing the annual municipal budget for news and wonder how to tie government contracts to campaign-donor lists, come hone your skills at this workshop taught by investigative reporter John Cheves. The workshop will be held at the Hyatt Regency, 401 W. High St., Lexington, Ky.

  • The Reynolds Fellowship in Community Journalism is accepting applications. This fellowship is be awarded to “a journalist of accomplishment and promise who is committed to the role of the community press.” Open to journalists working at a U.S. daily and weekly newspapers with a circulation less than 50,000, journalists doing online work for community newspapers, or journalists who have established independent local news websites in communities where the circulation of the local newspaper is less than 50,000. Must be a U.S. citizen. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2014. Apply now.

  • The Nieman-Berkman Fellowships in Journalism Innovation are a collaboration between two parts of Harvard (the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society). This fellowship involves spending a year in residence in Cambridge, and full participation in both the Nieman and Berkman fellowship communities. Applicants must propose a specific course of study or project relating to journalism innovation. Open to working journalists or others who work for a news organization in a business, technology, or leadership capacity. Independent journalists are also welcome. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2014.Apply now.

FEBRUARY

  • The Knight-Wallace Fellowships at Michigan is now accepting applications. Spend an academic year at the Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Fellows devise a personalized study plan with access to UM courses and resources, and are encouraged to nurture their creative and artistic tendencies. Includes twice-weekly seminars as well as domestic and international travel. Deadline: Feb. 1, 2014. Apply now: U.S. and international.

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Perfecting Personality Profiles,” Feb. 5-6 at 4:00 p.m. ET (noon PT). To make your beat coverage more accessible and engaging, you need to focus on people – those in positions of power or influence, and those who consume goods and services, work for wages and pay taxes. In the first hour of this lively two-part webinar, Pulitzer winner Jacqui Banaszynski will explore the characteristics of memorable and accurate profiles, as well as offer a range of profile approaches that can suit your purpose, publication and audience. In the second hour, on Feb. 6, she’ll dive more deeply into the reporting and writing techniques that can help any beat reporter pursue sparkling profiles.

MARCH

  • The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will hold a free workshop, “Social Media ROI for Journalists,” March 4 at  4:00 p.m ET (noon PT). In 2013, more and more newsrooms will revisit their social media strategy and ask, “What’s our return on investment?” How do we know if our newsroom is doing social “correctly”? What does this mean for our organization’s bottom line? This free, one-hour webinar will help you answer those questions on March 4.

JUNE

  • The best in the business will gather for more than 100 panels, hands-on classes and special presentations about covering business, public safety, government, health care, education, the military, the environment and other key beats at the 2014 IRE conference June 26-29, 2014 in San Francisco. Speakers will share strategies for locating documents and gaining access to public records, finding the best stories and managing investigations. Join the discussion about how to practice investigative journalism in print, broadcast, Web and alternative newsroom models.

If you have items you wish to include, please email them to me at benet AT aviationqueen DOT COM. Thanks!!