Thursday, August 14, 2008

Seattle Times Feels Threatened, Calls for "Net Neutrality" Jeff Poor's recent post reported on the potential return of the Fairness Doctrine under a President Obama--specifically for the purpose of the governing the internet. He quoted FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell who said the following:
“I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right. I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.” “Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else. So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”
Lest you think McDowell is being alarmist, consider, for a moment, the Seattle Times's pushback efforts against the erosion of MSM control and the future institution of "Net Neutrality." As part of the Times's regular Op-Ed page, they have an ongoing series of articles called "The Democracy Papers." The intro to this section reads:
The Democracy Papers is a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech. Technology has created space for more voices, yet fewer and fewer are heard. The American press and media are being decimated by consolidation. This transformation from many owners into five or six large corporations and the lessening of small outlets for radio, newspapers, magazines and music are chilling a once robust marketplace of ideas. What should Americans do? This series explores the arguments and the backlash.
The "threats to our freedoms of speech" to which the Seattle Times ominously refers is the same supposed corporate control and censorship to which McDowell alludes. According to the Seattle Times, this consolidation is "chilling" the "marketplace of ideas." Liberals sure do love to have their ideas "chilled," don't they? Of course, all of this ignores the single greatest development in the history of news reporting and prompts me to ask: Hey Seattle Times, have you ever heard of the internet? The real trend they should be following is the incredible democratization of the news and opinion-making that has wrested control of the news marketplace from the few, liberal powerbrokers. The Times's cri de coeur is nothing more than a self-interested longing for better days when they and their cohorts controlled the media agenda. You know, back in the day when they could squash reporting of scandals like John Edwards's and print libelous accusations of scandal about John McCain with nary a dissenting opinion. Those were the days, weren't they? —Jacob S. Lybbert is a PhD. student at the University of London

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