The Listening Post

The Battle for the World Wide Web

A controversial new set of rules to govern the use of broadband and the Internet has the cyber world blowing a fuse.

Net neutrality: it is not the sexiest of subjects – but it is one that affects us all. When you log on to this show on the Internet, you have taken something for granted already. You presumed you would be able to access our site, that you can watch online video, listen to our podcasts, anytime you want. And for the time being: you assumed right because of one guiding principle: Net Neutrality – where all websites and blogs are treated equally.

All that could change. The battle has begun in Washington and the stakes are high. The Federal Communications Commission (the FCC) is trying to figure that out as it proposes a new set of rules to govern the use of broadband in the United States. Critics argue the changes will allow ISPs to create a two-tiered Internet and charge websites that can afford it a premium for access to the fast lane, which could spell the end of the net’s level playing field.  In our news divide this week we speak to Timothy Karr, Senior Director of Strategy of Free Press, Brendan Sasso, Technology Correspondent for the National Journal and Berin Szoka, president of Tech Freedom.

Newsbytes this week: Thailand: the news fades to black as the military moves in; Russia: five men are finally convicted for the killing of prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya; and two of the most powerful woman in print journalism – Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times and Natalie Nougayrède, editor-in-chief of Le Monde – both out of a job.

For our feature, we take a look at the challenges faced by freelancers in the world of war reporting. Earlier this month, on World Press Freedom Day, the Paris based organisation Reporters Without Borders called Syria the most dangerous country in the world to be a journalist. More than 150 reporters have lost their lives there since 2011 and so the reluctance of news outlets to send their staff there is understandable, but this has meant that a lot of the journalism has been done by freelancers. Freelancing is tough; the pay tends to be low, you don’t get the backing of an employer and if you’re kidnapped or wounded it can take a while before news gets out, and in Syria this is not uncommon.

The Listening Post’s Gouri Sharma looks at the challenges freelance journalists face in bringing you the Syrian story.

Our web video of the week is a satirical take on net neutrality. We found a mockumentary that has been doing the rounds recently. It is called “The Internet Must Go” made by a producer in the US, Gena Konstantinakos. It tells the story of a fictional marketing guy, hired by big telecommunications companies to sell the public the idea that net neutrality doesn’t really matter. It is a cautionary tale about what could happen should big Internet Service Providers get their way on a free and open internet. The fake documentary has reached around quarter of a million viewers since its release last year. We hope you enjoy the show!


Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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