By Denise Tessier
Considering the importance of the internet both in the workplace and at home, it’s a shame the Albuquerque Journal didn’t have the time and resources to cover properly Federal Communications Commissioner Tom Wheeler’s visit to Albuquerque earlier this summer.
Under Wheeler, a former cable-industry lobbyist, the FCC is proposing rules on net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, and the public comment period on those rules ends at midnight tonight.
The Journal’s “coverage” of Wheeler’s visit was four paragraphs at the end of a July 1 Politics Notebook column, the headline of which was based on the column’s main topic (“Martinez ad attacks King for vote on child support”).
(By the way, that piece’s coverage of the ad allowed King to comment, but it did not explain how the Martinez ad was misleading. Steve Terrell at the Santa Fe New Mexican did explain, putting in full detail and perspective the 1993 King vote mischaracterized in the ad.)
The four paragraphs of the Politics Notebook, marked “Connecting NM”, included a summary of the proposed rules, saying they “would allow Internet providers to give faster service to content providers that can pay higher rates. Critics have said the option will mean higher costs to customers for Internet access and content.”
The Journal did publish an Associated Press summary of the net neutrality issue May 15 in the Business section. Other stories about net neutrality are available to Journal subscribers online.
Wheeler, although he was appointed by President Obama and has pledged to maintain an open Internet, was clearly in hostile territory Monday night. His past as a lobbyist for industry groups was the topic of conversation before the event. Several in the crowd of about 300 were vocal, shouting, and the moderator had to, at one point, take a break to calm the crowd down.
But Wheeler was anxious to tell how he came to his decision to vote to keep it open.
“When I was an entrepreneur, I had companies fail because they did not have access to networks. I am pro-Internet, and pro-free speech, and all that enables,” he said.
Readers also may find of interest this piece by Marisa Demarco, which appeared courtesy of New Mexico Compass just before Wheeler’s visit. It includes an explanation of the issue, video and contact information for making comments.