Why We Fight

When my colleagues and I write about the work we do at Free Press — promoting Internet freedom, advocating for policies that would increase the diversity and quality of our media — we often feel compelled to use war metaphors. We “fight” for Net Neutrality, we call on “armies” of activists to fight back against enemy “armies” of corporate lobbyists, etc.

Why the call to arms? In part it’s a failure of language; when we think of the challenges of working in the public interest, of the well-heeled enemies who are quick to hurt democracy if it means adding a few more bucks to their bottom line — and the constant uphill climb of it all — we can’t help but articulate our struggle in terms of a fight, a battle, a war.

This martial language also helps with the storytelling. Hanukkah just ended, so I have the Maccabees on the brain. Their story — a ragtag group of committed soldiers fighting against a much larger, more organized occupying force — resonates throughout the ages. David and Goliath does, too. These are tales that many small groups tell themselves to keep up morale, to remind themselves that, against all odds, sometimes the good guys really do win.

And when the good guys do win, it’s often because they have the so-called “arc of justice” on their side. And that arc of justice inspires people. Civil rights, reproductive rights, social justice, environmental justice — it turns out that millions of people are itching to join movements to help right the world.

Enter Free Press. In the last couple of years, we’ve won a lot of scuffles. Fights. Battles. Whatever. They range from forcing AT&T to stop blocking FaceTime on the iPhone, to working with many others to stop SOPA and PIPA, the twin anti-copyright infringement bills, to helping to expose the dark money behind the 2012 election.

And — to extend the metaphor — we’ve moved the frontlines into new territory. The Declaration of Internet Freedom’s proactive vision for the future of online rights is gaining ground around the world. And we’re making sure that anyone who wants to report the news has the freedom to do so.

But the war is still on (maybe now you can understand why we like this frame so much). Big corporations like Verizon claim they have a 1st Amendment right to “edit” the Internet. Congress is sure to drudge up more bills that break the open Internet in the name of cybersecurity and copyright protection. And the FCC is considering rules that would hasten the march to media consolidation and let wonderful folks like Rupert Murdoch snap up even more local newspapers and news outlets.

We, along with hundreds of thousands of activists and allies, will fight on the side of the public in 2013. We’ll win more battles. We’ll continue pushing for policies that help people connect and communicate, and to build a movement to make sure everyone has access to the information we need to keep our democracy strong.

But the war for Internet freedom, press freedom and media diversity will continue. Comcast wants to own the Internet, not just your connection to it. Big media continue to consolidate, causing local news to suffer year after year. Corporate lobbyists and their friends in Washington and in local government will make it harder for us to own our own broadband networks and media outlets.

Free Press is in this thing for the long haul. We don’t take any money from corporations or government; we’re able to fight year after year because of generous support from individual activists and foundations.

So if you believe these battles are worth fighting, and that this war is winnable, please become a supporter of Free Press today. If you donate before Dec. 31, your gift will be matched by a loyal Free Press supporter.

Thanks so much.

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