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August 07, 2006 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-08-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 7, 2006
JEREMY DAVIDSON IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor Managing Editor
EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIvERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890.
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other
signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.
Editorial Board Members: Amanda Andrade, Emily Beam,
Jared Goldberg, Theresa Kennelly, Christopher Zbrozek
FROM THE DAILY
Corporate j1ournalism
Spirit and character of student newspapers
threatened by corporate ownership

FROM THE DAILY

It's in the air
Creation of county-wide wireless network an
important step for future of the region

The prevalence and usefulness of
wireless Internet has become vital
and mainstream, especially here
in Ann Arbor. With plans to expand
access to the University's wireless net-
work into residence halls over the next
several years, even Washtenaw County
seems to be catching onto the idea.
Recently, the Washtenaw County Board
of Commissioners approved a plan
developed by the Wireless Washtenaw
Advisory Board to implement wireless
Internet access for all of Washtenaw
County. Given the types of businesses
and jobs this area needs to attract to
revitalize the local economy, providing
this service will prove invaluable not
just for Ann Arbor and the University,
but for the entire county.
Through 20/20 Communications, a
local communications company, wire-
less Internet will be provided first
through three different pilots. Ann
Arbor and Saline will each have one,
while the third will serve other com-
munities in Washtenaw County. Access
to the wireless network will be free for
all people in Washtenaw County. The
free service will run at 84 kbps, but
a premium service offering speeds of
500 kbps will be available for $35 per
month. According to 20/20 Communi-
cations, "the implementation and main-
tenance of Wireless Washtenaw will not
be funded through public tax money."
Currently, especially among the stu-
dent population in Ann Arbor, Comcast
enjoys a near monopoly in providing

Internet access. By creating a county-
wide wireless Internet service, Washt-
enaw County Board of Commissioners
will allow for more competition at
higher connection speeds between pro-
viders like Comcast. Additionally, free
wireless Internet service would be an
excellent tool for those who are unable
to receive private Internet service or
those who cannot afford it.
The plan will be able to accommo-
date local businesses as well. While
setting up an Internet connection in a
residence may not be very expensive,
businesses and other organizations
that require large networks to connect
dozens of machines find Internet ser-
vices costly - costly enough to locate
in another county which provides free
or subsidized access. For Washtenaw
County to remain competitive, it must
alleviate at least some of the burden.
With Republicans in the state legis-
lature and elsewhere creating a barrage
of confusion in their clamoring for a
repeal of the Single Business Tax in
order to spur job growth, free wire-
less Internet access is part of a sim-
pler answer. Companies like Google
- which has just decided to open-up
shop in Ann Arbor - see the high-tech
advancements of the city and county
as contributing to.a better living envi-
ronment. The more advancements, the
more accommodated current businesses
will feel and the more tempted others
will be to move their operations - and
jobs - to the region.

E

G iven the recent trend toward
corporate ownership of daily
newspapers across America,
we probably should have seen
this coming. Last week, the Tallahassee
Democrat, a daily newspaper owned by
Gannett Co., announced its acquisition
of the FSView, the student-run newspa-
per of Florida State University.
While the move is hailed by some as
an indication of corporate newspapers
more directly addressing student readers,
the acquisition should raise some alarm.
Plainly, is this the start of a trend which
will leave more and more college newspa-
pers in corporate hands? And what does
that mean for the traditionally maverick
role student papers have played in debate
and dialogue over the issues of the day?
The Democrat insists that it will take
a completely hands-off approach in its
management of the FSView - indeed,
the former owner of the paper has said
the staff will notice no change. But even
if the Democrat and Gannett Co. do not
exercise editorial control over the View,
there's something wrong with the simple
fact that they could.
Student newspapers have long held an
unbridled charm, a nature that may alarm
the old guard but is simply a manifesta-
tion of generational growth. When this
page argued for the legalization of mari-
juana in the late 1960s, many readers were
shocked and the Daily became the focus
of national media attention. Yet, nearly 40
years later, many national commentators
have questioned the economic merits of
LIVE ON YOUR FEET

an enforcement-based drug policy - a
discussion born from thinking that was
once too extreme for mainstream dailies.
There was a time when the country's local
dailies used to rustle some feathers, too. But
that willingness to take risks in calling atten-
tion to worthy issues has faded as bottom
lines resulting form corporate ownership
begin to override the spirit of investigative
journalism. Indeed, we now live in a time
when the New York Times, one of the few
remaining family-owned newspapers, has
its patriotism questioned for sticking to its
traditional, hard-hitting approach to inves-
tigative reporting. Could the future hold the
similar trouble for college newspapers?
There are things a college paper would
do and say that simply would not be
acceptable in any of Gannett's other publi-
cations. But many of these things do need
to be said. Unfiltered, college newspapers
serve an important function in writing
honestly about the issues, without having
to worry about advertising revenues and
sales. But as part of a profit-driven cor-
poration like Gannett, we wonder if the
FSView will remain so unburdened.
With local daily newspapers marching
ever more shamelessly toward trivial sto-
ries and fluff as opposed to worthy news
reporting, college journalism remains
one of the last places to hear about issues
as they are and get true viewpoints unal-
tered by pressures a profit-based publi-
cation is sure to face. If Gannett leaves
the FSView alone, that's great, but will
the next corporation that buys a college
newspaper be so benevolent?
JOHN OQUIST

EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENTS
Below is a summary of the Daily editorial board's endorsements for con-
tested local races in Tuesday's primary election. The full endorsements ran
in last week's issue and can be accessed on our website, www.michigandaily.
com. If you have comments about our endorsements, be sure to join a discus-
sion about them at our blog The Podium, which can be accessed at http://apps.
michigandaily.com/blogs/thepodium/.
Mayor of Ann Arbor: John Hieftje
Ann Arbor City Council
Ward 1: Ron Suarez
Ward 3: Jeff Meyers
Ward 5: Chris Easthope
State House of Representatives
53rd District: Rebekah Warren

9...AsoLtaastBI FoRcts tsrtt a rostra

r-

IHEARD SOME CHRISTIANS
WEAT USRTO AT I RAN
TO HELP BING ABOUT
BH DO AYSs.

AN EB EfFRCES ETRA R
WttK Or COsFLIcT...1
*CLICK*
EXPERTS ESTIMATE NORTH KOREA COULD
HAVE AS MANY AS TWELVE NUCLEAR...
*CLICK*
.GLOBAL WARMING COULD RESULT IN
WIDESPREAD EXTREME WEATHER...
'CL Ct
AS SOME SAY THE COUNTRY IS IN A
FULL BLOWN CIVIL WAR...

FRANKLY, IM NOT SURE WE NEED GODS
HELP ON THIS ONE..

a

IL

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