Elimination of Internet Neutrality and Introduction of European Privacy Guidelines plus American counter-guidelines hampering news coverage of the Chronicles and other historic bridges sites. Volunteer Contributors Wanted.
SCHNEEBERG (SAXONY), GERMANY- Since the Facebook scandal and the Trump administration’s campaign to eliminate internet neutrality to benefit the select few, regulations and counter-regulations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are making things very difficult to access any type of news coverage, be it TV, newspaper or the internet. Since 25th of May, new guidelines from the European Union have been in effect, which require all companies to inform readers of their rights to access the sites, which includes granting them rights to use only their personal data that is apropriate to their websites only and not giving them away to third parties without their consent. As a counter-measure, many news agencies in the United States have raised their guard on the rights to access their news from overseas. While some, like USA Today have provided the “lite” version with only the essential information, others have blocked access altogether. That means, readers from Europe who access information on news in their area of interest have been seeing this on their screen when trying to access their website:
WE’RE SORRY BUT WE CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO ACCESS OUR WEBSITE BECAUSE YOU ARE IN EITHER THE EUROPEAN UNION OR AN EEA COUNTRY.
Imagine an American expatriate from Hamburg trying to access news from his/her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa and cannot because of this. Believe it or not, Des Moines is one of many examples of cities and regions throughout the country implementing these counter-measures, as a “Red Alert! Shields Up! The Klingons are coming!” paranoia.
Given this situation, how does this affect the way the Chronicles does news coverage, especially with regards to social media? It has a huge, negative impact indeed.
Since 2010 with facebook and 2013 with Twitter, the Chronicles has been providing news coverage on historic bridges on social media to provide readers with an opportunity to read up on them and if the chance arises, take action. This includes posting news articles on the social media sites, which have garnered followers by an average of 20% yearly for both sites. Almost 1000 followers are on the facebook website and group pages and 110 for twitter. The trend is skyrocketing as the Chronicles has been back in action lately after a brief absence to reorganize its wordpress site due to the shutdown of its areavoices website last May, and if it continues to pick up more support, it is possible to break the 1500 mark for facebook and 150 for twitter, respectively, by the end of the year.
Sadly though, the progress to make the Chronicles a key news source for historic bridges in the US, Europe and elsewhere has been hampered greatly by the limited access to American media because of these unnecessary restrictions, for attempts to even forward the posts to the social media pages from its headquarters in Germany have in many cases been denied. While it is bad enough for readers outside the United States to not have any more access to the news media outlets, it is worse if the possibilities to even post them on twitter are no longer valid. The new regulations fall into the same category as Google’s plan to introduce pricing schemes for their maps and streetviews, which has caused the Chronicles’ Missouri-based colleague bridgehunter.com to remove all of its streetviews and consider replacing the maps with those from other, less-known map-making websites- as being complicated, an example of greedy, short-sightedness that will eventually fail miserably in the end.
While the Chronicles’ itself is not affected by all of the guidelines, as it runs a wordpress platform that operates universally, the twitter and facebook sites will see either fewer posts because of limited access to American media outlets or if they are posted, some of the viewers (especially outside the United States, including Canada, the EU, Mexico, Russia, Australia and Japan) will not be able to see them. And this is where your help is needed.
We need bridgehunters, historians, enthusiasts and locals to come together and help feed and water the two plants that are growing and bearing fruit. If you see any articles pertaining to historic bridges, bridge rehabilitation, bridge replacement or any events involving a historic bridge in the United States and its affiliated islands, please use the following social media websites to post them, followed by a brief summary in 1-2 sentences about the article if possible:
You are encouraged to like and follow the Chronicles if you want to keep up to date on the latest coverage of historic bridges in the US, Europe, Asia and other places in the world. By reaching the aforementioned goals and even beyond, we are providing a statement that media is for all and for free- not for the select few who are disinterested to begin with.
Note that the Chronicles has an Instagram app and is not affected by these restrictions. You can access (and follow) this page by clicking here.
If you know of a historic bridge that deserves attention because of a news event, you are encouraged to write a guest column and include 1-2 pictures to be sent to the author of the Chronicles, Jason Smith, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be posted in the Chronicles with your famed credit which will look good on your résumé if you wish to proceed in a career in media, history, etc.
This request is only for the US bridges as the regulations affect news coverage of many media outlets. The Canadian, European and other international outlets are not affected and coverage will be provided by its office here in Schneeberg.
The situation is awkward and disappointing, but it does not mean the show is over. The show must go on and it will go on, stronger than ever, because of people like you who love historic bridges. Therefore we will proceed as planned and the Chronicles thanks you with an open heart, mind and soul for your support. It is much appreciated. 🙂