Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Netroots Battle for Net Neutrality: An article at Salon suggests that social media have leveled the playing field between big corporate lobbyists and grassroots activists, focusing on the battle over Net Neutrality and the way a “ragtag army of bloggers, Internet entrepreneurs and consumer-rights activists” has been doing battle with high-paid corporate telecom lobbyists determined to erect toll booths on the information superhighway.

The grassroots tactics have included videos on YouTube—one recent example, created in an hour—has been viewed 350,000 times over the past month or so—and an online petition.

We already examined this issue at length in the newsletter, and there’s clearly reason to be skeptical: the Net Neutrality issue is uniquely appealing to bloggers and others; the opposition includes high-priced lobbyists as well as the netroots (Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo! will have to pay most of the tolls) and in any event, the telecom companies seem to be winning the battle the old-fashioned way: they make really, really big campaign donations and play the inside game better than their opponents.

But the use of social media in public affairs is worth noting for a couple of reasons: for one, there’s no reason the techniques being used by the grassroots can’t also be used to great effect by corporate interests; for another, there are issues on which the grassroots matter (and there will be many more if the Democrats regain either chamber this fall).

Professionals neglect these developments at their peril.

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