Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a Blogger can Do

Analyzing the crisis of journalism and whether blogging or independent on-line journalism can take the place of media reporting as we know it or not, are not easy issues to tackle. The difficulty stems from the fact that,
  1. public's right to access to information,
  2. ensuring public's safety,
  3. personal and privacy rights,
  4. safeguarding the bloggers and anonymity,
  5. upholding copyright and patent laws
 are all intertwined in a beautiful mixture of a soup we call Internet. Since the topics are huge and will provide enough material to write for many years, I am going to start at a random point. Unlike many though, I do have a proposition to solve most of the problems of today, but to present it gracefully requires time; so it will have to wait.

Today, I would like to give three seemingly unrelated news and want you to focus on not who is right or wrong but on the mechanics of them, i.e. how things operate or unfold.

First, we have the report of Committee to Protect Journalists, telling us 45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or on-line editors. On-line journalists represent the largest professional category for the first time in CPJ's prison census. CPJ's survey found 125 journalists in all behind bars on December 1, a decrease of two from the 2007 tally which does not include the missing and the abducted. Here, we see, 125 people have been picked up from their homes and taken somewhere (some locations are unknown), no questions asked.

Secondly, De Beers vs. The New York Times or rather De Beers vs., the domain name registrar case. De Beers, the South African diamond conglomerate, upon seeing a fake ad on a brilliant spoof of the New York Times, has attempted to shut down the site by putting pressure on what is often the weakest link in the on-line speech chain: the domain name registrar. The accusation? Trademark infringement.

Thirdly, we see Blogger deleting entire posts from music bloggers' websites without warning or adequate explanation. Rather than exposing itself to unnecessary risks by providing a free medium for people to express themselves, a financially strong company wipes away blogs.

So, that concludes our tour, the bloggers, the name registrar, the hosting company. Now, ask yourselves this question: Can a blogger or independent on-line journalist do much?


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