More biased AP coverage of Net Neutrality — AP unfairly presumes Cox trial to be a violation

January 28, 2009

AP “reporter” Peter Svensson appears to be up to his old tricks again masking his advocacy for Net neutrality as objective journalism — in his AP article: “Cox Communications to try a new way to handle online congestion, giving priority to some traffic.”

In the first and fourth sentences of Mr. Svensson’s “report” he editorializes:

  • First sentence: “Cox Communications… stepped onto the battleground of the net neutrality issue Tuesday…”
  • Fourth sentence: “The news is sure to revive the debate about “Net Neutrality,” or the question of how much Internet service providers can interfere with subscriber traffic.”

How can Mr. Svensson be so “sure” of such a thing unless he is planning personally to “revive” the net neutrality debate through his close coordination with FreePress?

How can Mr. Svensson be so “sure” that Cox’ network management technique — of prioritizing traffic based on time-sensitivity — putting time sensitive traffic ahead of non-time sensitive traffic — is not permissible reasonable network management, but is likely a violation of net neutrality warranting uproar — unless…

  • Mr. Svensson and his FreePress cohort already have privately rushed to judgement that it must be a net neutrality violation; and
  • He intends to advocate that point of view in his “news” coverage going forward from AP’s dominant news service perch?

Beef #1:

  • While Mr. Svensson certainly has every right to his opinion, his biased story should have been labeled as “news analysis” or “opinion,” because it did not live up to the reporting values AP represents as the world’s leading source of news articles.
    • AP in its Statement of News Values and Principles states: “we insist on the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior when we gather and deliver the news. That means we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions [Bold added]
    • Mr. Svensson’s article represented his strong opinions about net neutrality as facts without the reporting evidence to back it up.

Beef #2:

  • This article is biased and unfair in that it presumes Cox is somehow violating net neutrality since its actions will be “sure to revive the debate about net neutrality” and that Cox “has stepped on to the battleground.”
  • Moreover, Mr. Svensson did not include the critically relevant information Cox provided that would have provided the reader with a more balanced story.
    • The article did not include that:
      • Cox said it factored in guidance from the FCC in crafting its approach;
      • Cox manages its network to give all its customers “the best possible Internet experience” or quality of service.
      • Cable network architecture shares bandwidth and naturally has much less bandwidth available for upstream traffic than for downstream traffic;
      • Cox has classified what is time sensitive based on which applications are “naturally intolerant of delay” and also customer expectations;
      • This is a Cox trial or experiment, and Cox may adjust its approach based on experience and feedback from its trials; and
      • Affected customers are notified of the trial in advance and their feedback is encouraged.

Bottom line:

Mr. Svensson’s advocacy approach and “gotcha” coverage to net neutrality ill serves AP readers, Internet users and ISPs.

  • Mr. Svensson’s bias that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are somehow more interested in violating net neutrality than best serving their customers with the best quality of service possible — is based on the nonsensical market assumption that ISPs can do better business by ill-serving customers than by well-serving customers.
  • The depth of this anti-business bias is outrageous for a news organization claiming to follow the highest news values.

In short:

  • Is it “reasonable” to presume Cox guilty until proven innocent — i.e. that Cox’s network management based on the time sensitivity of traffic is somehow nefarious and will surely warrant a net neutrality furor?
  • Or is it more “reasonable” to presume Cox innocent until proven guilty, that a publicly disclosed, network management trial, which prioritizes traffic based on how time sensitive an application is — for the purposes of ensuring the best possible Internet experience for customers — is likely to be found to be reasonable network management?
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