Net neutrality is one of those little-known and little understood political issues that’s not sensational or sexy enough to receive the news coverage it deserves given the effect that the Federal Communication Commission’s decision on the matter will have on the Internet landscape, innovation in the technology sphere, and how Americans consume media content.
On May 15, the FCC announced a notice of proposed rule making, giving four months for anyone and everyone to comment on how the organization should proceed with reinstating some sort of net neutrality rules after the current laws were shot down in court in January. At that same time, the Pew Research Center released the results of a study that found media coverage on this important issue has been sorely lacking and that Americans have not been provided with the information about net neutrality that they need in order to understand the concept.
The study looked at media coverage of the issue since January coming from television and print news, as well as trending topics online via social media and using Google Trends. Overall, much more attention to the topic was given online than anywhere else, with coverage almost nonexistent in both television news and newspapers.
As for television coverage, Pew’s research found that out of 2,820 news programs aired between January 1 and May 12 on eight different network and cable news channels, only 25 programs mentioned net neutrality. The real kicker is that out of those 25, eight were found on Al Jazeera America, a channel that not many people even get. Newspapers had slightly better coverage of the topic, but most of the stories about net neutrality were relegated to just six newspapers not counting The Wall Street Journal.
Overall, most of the conversation about net neutrality is happening online via avenues such as Twitter. While these places are good areas to foster discussion, they aren’t where people uninformed about net neutrality are going to receive information as to how important the issue is without actively looking for it.