This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

What We Think About When We Think About the Net

Jul 10 2001 08:38 AM PDT

The Internet still gets high marks, even if we don't believe everything it says.

Flash: Americans still think the Internet is pretty nifty. This is one conclusion the press pulled out from the Markle Foundation's year-long study, the results of which were released today. The newspapers of record assigned reporters to the story but everybody else ignored it. Maybe the conclusion was too upbeat for the current mood of Net gloom?

The Wall Street Journal stressed the public's view of the Internet as an information source, not primarily as a venue for e-shopping. But the Journal's reporters cautioned that 70 percent of those who were asked considered information found on the Internet to be unreliable.

The New York Times and the Washington Post both wrote about Markle's exercise of asking focus groups who should govern the Internet. The Times led with the standouts in such a hypothetical body: the Pope, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. Add Madonna or Justin Timberlake and you might have something.

The Times and Post also mentioned the study's conclusion that Americans favor taxing Net e-commerce transactions. This one will result in midnight oil consumption in Washington and in state capitals. The Times got a comment from Esther Dyson, the former chair of ICANN, who knows a thing or two about Internet governance: "I've found people want democracy, but they're often unwilling to do the work."

Net Is Still Popular, But Not to Shop

Internet Is Valued as Information Source Rather Than for Commerce, Study Finds
The Wall Street Journal

Survey About Accountability Online
The New York Times
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Survey Shows Support for Internet Rules
Washington Post