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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Net Neutrality event in Montpelier

If you, like me, could not be at the net neutrality rally today, feel free to check out the event's video stream on the Channel 17 website.

Here's a report from WCAX and preview coverage from the Vermont Guardian

August 31, 2006 at 04:14 PM in House Rules | Permalink


Was able to make it over there just after they started the event. The AP reporter arrived a few moments or so later. Anson Tebbets asked the usual questions, including who is going to pay for all this or, something along those lines, which drew a response from those within the group holding the signs of who are you (some with a little bit of obvious hostility or contempt [not a good idea to beat upon the press/media when you are trying to get your message out to the public via the press/media]), with them wanting to know who he was and whom he represented, etc. (even though he answered that same question when one of the event organizers asked earlier. Since it was made known that both the press and public could ask questions, towards the end I asked how many bloggers there were present. Could no take an exact count, but it seemed that -- not including myself -- there were six to eight or more bloggers who raised their hands. Not bad in a crowd of 40 or more people (there was in fact more than 35 people there, not counting press, from what I could tell anyway; I know, because I counted heads as best as I could).

Posted by: mwb | Aug 31, 2006 5:13:58 PM


None of those who raised their hands to my question of how many bloggers there were present at the event were anyone whom I either knew or recognise, though who knows, I might be read the blog of some of them.

I asked the question because when someone spoke earlier they mentioned how among those losing Net Neutrality would effect included bloggers (of course), etc.

Since they wanted people asking question to identify themselves, I made it known who I was and how I was a blogger and how if there is no longer Net Neutrality, then I might as well fold up my tent, because -- as someone added -- my blog will most likely be put out of business, so-to-speak, as who would want to bother reading such blogs if they take forever to download it (not to mention I do not have many readers now anyway).

Posted by: mwb | Aug 31, 2006 5:24:23 PM

Had meant to also add that, as far as I could ascertain anyway, no one I know of from either the Burlington Free Press, Times Argus/Rutland Herald/Vermont Press Bureau, Seven Days or Vermont Guardian was there to cover the event at all.

Luckily however David Gram was there to cover it for the Associated Press (AP), along WCAX, WPTZ and of course Channel 17 providing TV news coverage.

There might have been others from the media there I suppose, however no one I know.

Posted by: mwb | Aug 31, 2006 5:33:05 PM

Okay. Looking at the coverage, I'm getting annoyed. Why weren't bloggers actively engaged in this. For Pete's sake, we have a nationally recognized blogger in Steve at Carpetbagger who is among those who have pushed this to such prominence. Was he not asked to speak?

I'm gonna get in trouble for saying this, but VPIRG does have a tendency to swoop in and try to take credit for an issue when the cameras are rolling. Is this another example of that? If there ever was a blog-driven political issue, this is it (much more so than the Lamont campaign). Although its probably not the action I wouldve chosen (focusing on Jeffords. as he already was on board), it's certainly a legitimate way to go, but why oh why didn't they pull bloggers into the organizing. And I'm not talking Johnny-come-latelys like me, I mean Cathy, Steve, Bill.... its great that Morgan was there, but Morgan should have been the featured SPEAKER, fer chrissake.

If they had, there woulda been more than 35 people, as the Times Argus eported.


Posted by: odum | Sep 1, 2006 8:46:27 AM

No, Steve was not contacted by VPIRG or anyone else about the rally.

Posted by: evening | Sep 1, 2006 9:01:37 AM

Sorry, I couldn't make it, but I covered it on my blog extensively. I do have other stories to report this week — three of them, to be exact — so it's hard for me to pop over to Montpelier for a press conference, especially when the Senator in question already mostly supports the issue. It's not like there was a big controversy here, you know?

And remember — we're talking about an event held at noon on a weekday. It's not like people with jobs are just going to take vacation to go.

I do agree that Steve would have made a great speaker, but Odum, I think you're overestimating how connected people are to the local blogosphere. If you don't reach out to VPIRG, why would you think they would know you're out there? I mean, it's not like the staffs of nonprofits have tons of time on their hands to find all of their allies before they unveil a campaign.

I suspect the omission reflects the fact that they have no clue who Steve is. I am almost positive it's not the sign of some power grab.

And if bloggers want to have a net neutrality event, they oughtta organize one, or help organize one.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: cresmer | Sep 1, 2006 11:25:17 AM

There is no other issue I would say this about, but absolutely, I would say one cant be even peripherally engaged with net neutrality without realizing its a blog-driven issue, unless you're really, really out of it.

And Cathy, perhaps you're playing devil's advocate, but it seems to me you have a tendency to put all the onus for communication in matters where blogs are involved on the blogs themselves. VPIRG doesn't "get" net neutrality and reach out to forces behind it, but it's because the blogs didn't reach out to them. the BBQ doesn't get covered because the blog's didn't do a press release.

Where I believe the blogs have a share of the reponsibility, I think communication is enough of a two-way street that the other parties do too. i dont think blogs have a special burden. Reporters have a responsibility to look for the news, rather than just wait for it to be presented to them. Advocacy organizations have some responsibility for their advocacy, rather than just a blank check to grab whatever they want and run with it however they want. At least in my own opinion.

Posted by: odum | Sep 1, 2006 12:19:14 PM

Reporters have a responsibility to look for the news, rather than just wait for it to be presented to them. Advocacy organizations have some responsibility for their advocacy, rather than just a blank check to grab whatever they want and run with it however they want.

I don't disagree with you. And in an ideal world, I think this would always be the case. But we don't live in an ideal world.

I just think it's much more believable to cry foul when you can say, "We tried to get them to play along, and they ignored us."

How can someone purposefully ignore you if they don't know you're out there?

Posted by: cresmer | Sep 1, 2006 1:05:26 PM

Odum, I hear you and it may be fair to characterize VPIRG and the other organizers of the event as being a little clueless about the local blogosphere, and it may also be fair to lay some of the blame for that on their own shoulders. After all, if they were really engaged with the online world, they'd be hip to the local people who are talking about the issue on their blogs. And even if they don't know those local blogs specifically, one might expect them to say "hey, this is a blogging thing. I bet there are local bloggers who are dealing with this. I should find out and invite them to participate." That said, the blogosphere IS a bit of an echo chamber and if we want to be noticed by non-bloggers, we need to do more than gripe about it on our blogs. Vermont is small and a little insular and suffers occasionally from a clique factor. If you want the VPIRG and ACLU and PEG access cliques to invite you to their party, you might have to do something proactive to let them know. Yes, it would be nice if they were more actively engaged, but it's not 100% up to them. I don't know about you, but I knew about the rally at least 3 days before it happened and I didn't go (working) and I didn't email anyone with suggestions or my opinions (though I would have had a few). I've no one to blame but myself for not being included.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Sep 1, 2006 1:08:21 PM

You know what I just did? I emailed Paul Burns, VPIRG ED, and advised him to look at this thread, as he might want to respond to your criticism.

If he doesn't care to respond here or to you personally, then I'd agree that you're being ignored.

Posted by: cresmer | Sep 1, 2006 1:09:40 PM

Yes, it would be nice if they were more actively engaged, but it's not 100% up to them.

Which is really, precisely my point.

Its never 100% up to one side of a communication thread - which means both sides should be open for criticism.... not just the blogs.

Posted by: odum | Sep 1, 2006 2:00:18 PM

I think Odum just doesn't understand how insignificant he and his blog are. But his ego seems to be pretty healthy. I mean, come on Odum, when your top story of the day involves Snarky Boy having some technical difficulties, how do you expect anyone to take you seriously?

Posted by: SnarkyBoy | Sep 1, 2006 2:43:08 PM

Thanks for the heads up, Cathy. Maybe a little background would be helpful. I'm the ED here, but I'm not the person who represented VPIRG at the event (I was on the global warming yesterday). Colleen Thomas is our associate director and she spoke at the event and assisted with organizing it as part of a national collaborative effort between the PIRGs, MoveOn and other members of the Save the Internet coalition. (I would have asked Colleen to respond to this but she's now on vacation.)

We agreed to be a part of this event because we thought it was important and wanted to help out. I'm sure there are folks who could have added something useful to the short program. We didn't intentionally leave any such person out. We just did our best to present a compelling and diverse group on short notice. And it worked pretty well from what I've seen and heard.

Nationally, there were rallies in 25 cities. These events were set in the districts of undecideds or swings in the senate. The activities were designed to ramp up momentum for the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Senator Jeffords clarified his position after we reached out to him. And on a very busy news day in Vermont, we succeeded in drawing some attention to the issue (something very few people have ever heard of).

According to a running tally taken by the Save the Internet coalition, 26 senators have publicly voiced their support for the Snowe-Dorgan approach. Only one of them, Sen Snowe herself, is a Republican. Four of the senators siding with the Net neutrality lobby publicly declared their stance just this week, in the midst of the coast-to-coast rallies. (Four more are still waffling; 14 are opposed; and 56 have not yet made their positions public, by the coalition's count.)

So, we were just trying to do our part. Someone asked us to step up and we did. We'll keep our eyes on the prize and focus our energy in any given campaign on those who are not supporting the public interest. That's what we do, and part of that means getting the issue in the media.

I'm not able to check out these blogs as often as I'd like to, so please don't take it personally if I don't continue to respond to this thread. I just wanted to take Cathy up on her offer and add our perspective. THANKS

Posted by: Paul Burns | Sep 1, 2006 2:55:16 PM

No problem, Paul. But you should know these liberal bloggers have a much-inflated sense of importance. And, worse, absolutely no sense of humor.

Man, how much more can Odum's ego be trounced? First, only 37 people cared to log-on to his fiasco of a debate and then he gets the big blow-off by VPIRG of all groups. Perhaps it's time to move away from the monitor once in a while and do some actual organizing. You know, like VPIRG does, as in: face to face.

Enough with the self-importance, little Mister Associate Director.

Posted by: SnarkyBoy | Sep 1, 2006 3:05:44 PM

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Paul. Big kudos, actually.

I'm not totally of the opinion that the traditional media or traditional organizers are somehow out to get us - dont get me wrong. I do think there is some condescension, but its true, there is a larger amount of cluelessness. If all things were equal, Steve at Carpetbagger would be quoted in every local paper regularly from everything from election coverage, to net neutrality. I mean, it's really extraordinary that we have someone of such stature in the political blogosphere right here. He's a resource largely untapped by the local media and advocacy groups (assuming of course he and Eve would be interested in being "tapped")

So should we be trying to raise our profile, or just cruise along organically? Despite my griping, I tend to the latter, but with an issue like net neutrality, maybe the political sites should be more aggressive. I dunno.

Posted by: odum | Sep 1, 2006 4:17:57 PM

Oh my God, Odum just won't get a clue. First, he whines behind VPIRG's back and then he asks for advice about how to get a life? Earth to Odum, Paul made it very clear how insignificant he thinks you and the blogosphere are up here in Vermont. Go back and read his line about probably not coming back to this thread. That was a kiss goodbye, you fool. And I would, indeed, hope that Paul had better things to attend to.

This blog thing is just busy work for you, isn't it? But the really sad part is that it's apparently zapped you of your energy to dream, think, organize and make REAL things happen outside of hyperlinks and a bizarre fixation on controlling content.

You're living in a bubble, my friend. Just look how many people have voted on your poll after your debate. I believe it now stands at 27. Why would anyone, especially the media and leaders of groups that claim thousands of members, give two shits about your ego tantrum.

People in the blogosphere constantly claim that they're making huge political strides. But where's the beef? Since the advent of the Internet, I would argue, things have gone to the right far more than to the left (e.g. White House, Congress, Supreme Court). And, please, spare me the Howard Dean story. He got his ass kicked and we all know it, despite the bloggers' belief otherwise.

Yesterday's New York Times (8.31.06) featured a fabulous op/ed by Andrew Rosenthal entitled, "There is Silence in the Street; Where Have All the Protesters Gone?" In it, Rosenthal wonders where all the activism is when it comes to this ridiculous war our nation is engaged in. And it includes this line that I think is pertinent to this debate: "Bloggers say there is and antiwar movement online. Perhaps, but it takes crowds to get America's attention."

Yep. And it's the crowds that you, Odum, do NOT have. Crowds are created by REAL organizing and -- even more importantly -- hope and creativity. But, please, go ahead and prove me wrong. Call for a protest as Cathy suggested and let's see the numbers. My guess is that if only 37 people bother to log-on to you, even less will bother to walk to hear or see you.

You've got to earn activist respect, my friend. It jsut doesn't come knocking on your door because a dozen of your buddies pat you on the back for starting a fucking blog site. Get real.

And it's really unfortunate that this debate can't happen on your site because of your control issues and all-too-willing tendencies to stifle creativity and LIMIT the kinds of free-from debate that happen elsewhere.

But I've got hope for you, my friend. You've only been at this for a few months. And you're no dummy. But you've got to be willing to listen and learn.

In the meantime, I'll see you in the mudpit.

Posted by: SnarkyBoy | Sep 1, 2006 5:39:10 PM

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