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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

Save the Internet TODAY! Support Net Neutrality!

Save the Internet TODAY! Support Net Neutrality!

Sorry first of all to have neglected this blog for so long. One day I’ll get into my excuses, but frankly, I’ve missed it. Today is as good of a day as any to resurrect it. Today is #InternetSlowDownDay.

I hope you’ve see the image above on many of the websites you’ve visited today. They are all part of a concerted effort to help us realize what the Web would be like without ‘Net neutrality.

In my classes today, we’ve specifically focused on DemandProgress.org because this site was so instrumental in defeating the Stop Online Piracy Act that once had the support of more than 60 U.S. Senators. It was also founded in part by Aaron Swartz, an Internet pioneer who I think would be center stage today defending everyone’s right to equal online access had he not taken his life more than a year ago.

In addition to visiting the site he helped create, we’ve watched clips from “The Internet’s Own Boy,” a documentary that chronicles his life, his contributions to the Internet, and his zeal for making what’s supposed to be public actually publicly available on the Web. I highly recommend it. I hope several of my students purchased it after class.

Swartz faced federal prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for downloaded thousands of academic articles from the JSTOR database. He didn’t sell or share them. He didn’t hack any databases to get them. He legally downloaded them from MIT’s library. But the feds sought to make an example out of him and he, it seems, couldn’t handle the unfair pressure.

We’ve become so spoiled with broadband Internet access that we don’t realize what the Internet could become and how far away it could get from its original purpose if we allow corporations to control access to it. I’m a firm believer that the Internet has become a public good and should be regulated in kind. This means that everyone should have equal access to whatever online destination they choose. If you agree, support ‘Net neutrality by signing the petition at any of the participating sites (including Netflix, Etsy, and WordPress) or by tweeting, posting or Instramming using the hashtag #internetslowdownday.

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