Analysis packaged like news

There's something deceptive about yesterday's Washington Post story, "Tech, telecom giants take sides as FCC proposes large public WiFi networks."

What's deceptive is a news-like lead-in, when the piece is actually a considered analysis of potential indirect consequences of FCC proposals that have been in play for months, or longer.

Here's the lead paragraph of the story by Cecelia Kang:

"The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month."

Breathtaking lead. I read that yesterday and hopped over to fcc.gov, figuring there must be a release, study, proposal, some reference to a plan that, if implemented, would suddenly make moot so many local debates about municipalities offering free wi-fi.

Wifi signBut there's nothing on the FCC site to correspond to the point Kang's story drives.

Twenty-four hours later, it's clearer that the item is not news at all.

As currently presented on the Washington Post site, the story is accompanied by a video. If you click the video, a less misleading headline shows up:  "FCC offers path to free Internet access." Gone, here, is the implication that the federal government means to set up national wi-fi networks. Added, too, is fairer warning that the piece is analytic.

Photo: Lance Nishihira / Flickr.


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