In prepared testimony, University of Tennessee law professor and blogger Glenn Reynolds argues that an open Internet has allowed for the creation of new journalism models that harken to the pamphleteers of the Founding Fathers’ age.
Reynolds’ remarks were prepared for testimony he gave Tuesday to an FCC panel gathering opinions on its Open Internet proposals. He describes journalism as an “activity” rather than a “profession’ or, as many journalists refer to it, a craft.
While saying an open Internet allowed people like himself to have their voice heard, he cautions against heavy-handed governmental overnight aimed at ensuring an open Internet.
The popular Instapudit blogger wrote:
The ability to publish inexpensively, and to reach potentially millions of people in seconds, has made it possible for people who would never be able to — or even want to — be hired by the institutional press to nonetheless publish and influence the world, much like eighteenth century pampleteers.
“The Internet has also made all sorts of new journalistic models available. Independent
journalists like Michael Yon (michaelyon-online.com) and Michael Totten (michaeltotten.com) have provided compelling firsthand reporting from places like Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, supported entirely by reader donationsAt a time when “mainstream” publications are closing foreign bureaus and slashing reporting budgets, this is a new model for reporting that rewards painstaking reporting and excellent writing, producing results that are, in these two cases, comparable to the very highest level work from traditional professionals.”
At the same time, Reynolds did not favor the government stepping in:
“That the power to control communication leads, more or less inevitably, to the tendency to control communication in ways that advantage one’s own political faction seems to me indisputable: It is, after all, the reason for the First Amendment. One reason why content distribution over the Internet has done so well has been, to put it bluntly, that the government has had nothing to do with it. Though the formulation above sounds neutral and simple enough, a cynic might conclude — and, in my experience, the “cynics” in such matters are almost always right — that over time “neutrality” is likely to be redefined in ways that turn out to be something less than neutral.”
He draws a sharp distinction between the existence or the need for an open (lowercase) Internet and the need for a public policy Open (uppercase) Internet.
You can read his prepared testimony and his trying experience in testifying to the commission via the Internet on his blog. The FCC might do well to consider using openly and inexpensive tools to gather its testimony. They seem to work!