Archived Opinion

Give the lasting gift of independent media

Several years ago, as Christmas approached, I remember my youngest daughter saying, “I can’t imagine what I want for Christmas; I have everything I could possibly need.” She grew up and no longer says such things in anticipation of Christmas or birthdays.

But I do. All I want for Christmas is wireless Internet. Let me tell you why. In short, our future depends on it.

If you like what big corporations have done with network television, you’re going to love what they do to the Internet. If you think that “reality television” resembles reality and that Fox News is “fair and balanced,” then you may not see the need for media reform. A recent study recorded roughly a minute and a half of “substantive political content” on the nightly television news. Democracy cannot live on the starvation diet fed to it by corporate media.

The Internet, as it is now, is fairly democratic. The sites that get the most traffic are chosen by their quality and appeal. However, recent Supreme Court and FCC decisions have given the cable and telephone companies “duopoly” control over high-speed Internet access, opening the door for their partitioning the Internet into fast and slow lanes.

Even more disturbing, these decisions open the door for the cable/teleco “duopoly” to block access to Web sites they deem a threat to national security — just like corporate radio banned anti-war music and the Dixie Chicks prior to the Iraq War. (And hasn’t that turned out nicely!)

Wireless Internet is the strategic alternative to feeding at the trough of corporate media. Wireless Internet is how we ensure that we have free access to a variety of information sources. So I’m asking you for a present — but not really for me. I’m asking you to give the gift of independent media. Indeed, since a free-flow of information is the lifeblood of democracy, one might see this as a gift back to one’s country.

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The Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) is our local strategic alternative to the big cable and big telecom “duopoly.” Because of a generous grant, every dollar that you contribute to bringing high-speed wireless Internet access to Haywood County will be matched with another dollar. So immediately your gift will be doubled, but for generations your gift will offer a free-flow of information to our democracy, this strange bird of government by the people and for the people.

I urge you to contribute this time of year as a gift that will give again and again. Your tax deductible check can be made payable to MAIN and marked “Haywood Access.” This is a time-limited effort to cover the start-up costs of covering Haywood County with wireless Internet access. Ongoing expenses will be covered by subscription fees that are consistently cheaper than the for-profit, commercial alternatives. Now is the time. This is the moment. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Robin Taft Smith

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