The Verizon Case as an Example of Shifting from Old Politics to New

The New York Times broke a front page story this morning about Verizon blocking the progressive group NARAL from sending “controversial” text messages. Within hours, Verizon has reversed its decision, calling it “an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy.” (The NYT online version has the updated reversal on top of the bulk of the original story.)

The whole episode is a good example of how the new tools of politics, like texting through mobile phones, are challenging the old norms and “dusty” policies and regulations. We’re in that exciting but confusing period when the changeover is happening and many old patterns and habits have to be re-thought and adjusted.

This story has another interesting twist for the New Politics Institute. Just yesterday, we released a major new study on mobile media and politics, authored by Jed Alpert, the CEO of Mobile Commons, which is the company hired by NARAL to get its text messages onto Verizon. Alpert is in the middle of this shifting story, and his NPI Memo on Mobile Media is now available on the NPI website, as well as video of a recent talk he gave on the subject at an NPI event in Washington DC. Alpert also posted on the NPI blog about mobile media this week before this firestorm broke out.

The Alpert memo follows on a major report about the coming power of mobile media released by NPI last year, by NPI fellow Tim Chambers, co-founder of Media 50 Group, a company helping people in politics use mobile media.

This mobile media space is one that NPI has been tracking closely and will continue to do as it gets increasingly important to politics over time. Stay tuned.

Peter Leyden