04 November, 2006

Lack of rules in the blogging world

Brian Ashby has written a piece in Emirates Today about freedom of speech in the blogging world. The main point of his piece is that any Tom, Dick or Layla can spread all kinds of erroneous information through blogging, free of the legal framework that constrains traditional media.

His conclusion . . .

It is because of blogging’s lack of rules, therefore, that the Pentagon has had to launch its new team to fight the bloggers on their own terms. It is also this lack of rules that is currently blocking blogging’s future success.

Without development, sophistication and maturity, it will never possess the power or authority of existing media.

While the cost for this necessary evolution must not be an overzealous restraint on its essence – freedom of speech is a human right – responsible free speech is a necessity for living in any society.

. . . seems to be suggesting that some sort of restraint, “responsible free speech”, needs to be put in place, although not one that is “overzealous” . At least that’s the way it reads to me. What do you think?

My opinion is that the Internet has been uncensored so far (at least in most of the world) and society hasn’t collapsed, so why start now? Far better to encourage people to participate in the Internet, understand its flaws and pitfalls, so they can discriminate for themselves between reliable and unreliable sources.

14 comments:

marwan said...

What a load of bull.

"...the difference is because they have evolved over so many years, checks and balances have been built into the system...

Radio, newspaper and TV content is
created by staff that have been schooled and trained in
fact-checking...

News and opinion is identified and segregated while the staff monitor and control unfettered content..."

Even in the unfettered West I don't trust the media, but I doubly mistrust the UAE equivalent because we never get anything remotely approaching the real story.

Why should we attach credibility to the newspapers, who rip off our blogs, parrot press releases, censor pertinent information, and protect individuals of importance?

And this is all very rich coming from the Emirates Today. I'd sooner quote Lonelygirl15 as a news source than any local rag.

Lirun said...

i think journalism in its race to deliver well reviewed.. considered.. supported facts in real time is doing an excellent job in the circumstances but with only very limited success in absolute terms..

i know very few bloggers who pretend to be journalists and i think the mainstream media has no place seeking to curb what effectively constitutes a microweb of open book thought journals..

just as we are entitled to have uncensored conversations - i cannot see why we should lose ourr liberties in their digital incarnation..

if anything.. i would suggest that the meanstream media and the political establishment is perchance a little threatened by our heightened ability to now sift through disinformation - as we are increasingly able to denounce false news - whereas in the past we had little chance to do so..

it would come as no surprise to me if history will describe the early 2000s as the bloggers revolution.. the global impact of these opening channels (i believe) is vastly underestimated..

good luck to them.. i empathise with their passion.. i too am trying to will it to be sunny this afternoon and also trying to will my mortgage to instantly pay itself.. you never know.. it could happen :D

bizzwhizz said...

ha ha cuz other media is organized its easy to rig it, blogging is one area where freedom lies where open debates are born .. so please you sophisticated patrons of media let it be..

secretdubai said...

In the UAE, nearly all bloggers practice careful self-censorship to stay on the right side of the laws here.

Worldwide, any prominent blogger also remains within the the laws of their country: in terms of defamation, or obscenity. Otherwise they can and do prosecution, same as any professional publication.

Then let's not forget the myriad of bloggers who are also professional journalists in their "day jobs", worldwide and in the UAE. The idea of bloggers as some semi-educated rabble of unprofessional loose cannons is just naive. Frankly it's wishful thinking: put out by old-school journalists who possibly feel threatened by a new media that they haven't got to grips with yet, encouraged by their management who are freaking out over plummeting ad revenues and the rise of online.

Very few people in the UAE trust Emirates Today's reporting (least of all the people who actually write it, most of whom have fled in droves since the paper launched). It is a known goverment mouthpiece that spins stories to the pro-Mo line and ignores many negative stories.

Whereas bloggers like The Emirates Economist and Grapeshisha blog news from a myriad of sources, including plenty of material that would never see the light of day in a heavily censored, pro-Mo rag like the Today. The EE may not be a journalist, but he is clearly well-informed and intelligent, his comment is balanced and not pushing any party line, and as a result he has my trust. ET does not, and never will.

fellow atheist said...

I second sd, wholeheartedly. It is not that they are threatened though. I think a lot of old-school journalists simply don't appreciate the impact of blogs quite yet. They see people talking about it.. they read about it and write about it even.. but they don't really get it.

A really good example of how blogging is evolving can be given by looking at wikipedia. To even explain to a 60-year old pen and pad journalist how a group of volunteers around the world are able to put together a true encyclopedia with peer fact-checking. Imagine that! This is the closest thing to Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series. A true science fiction story.

Blogging too, is based on peer checks and reviews. You can have anyone stand on a street corner and preach the end of the world.. but unless there is a critical mass of supporters, no one will pay attention to that person. This applies to bloggers as well.

BD said...

Blogging and the traditional media are apples and oranges. You can't really compare the two or expect them to be in any way similar. A blog is blank sheet of paper that you can write absolutely whatever you like on. It's you and you alone who calls the shots. The media is nothing like that. It is collaborative, hierarchical and quite naturally subject to various input, rules, limitations, etc. What the two have in common where the internet is concerned is that both are potentially visible to a wide audience. For that reason, one might want to self-censor to some extant. But that's more like just monitoring what you say whenever you speak before a group of people. Its got nothing to do with being similar or disimilar to journalism.

Prometheus said...

Prometheus thinks all that anti-blog crap comes from failed journos, who essentially are failed authors.

Like marwan said; rather Lonelygirl15 or the neighborhood hag than most (any?) local press. Ever see how almost the entire paper is syndicated content?

BuJ said...

I think this is quite a serious development and not many people actually realise how dangerous this move by the Pentagon actually is.

Very good post!

Anonymous said...

It's nothing to do with his opinion and everything to do with the 'Mediawatch' blog which slags off Emirates Today and its staff.

oink oink said...

When I want serious news that others are too scared to print I go to Balushi's blog.

alisha said...

the creator of media watch has "elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available."

you'll be missed

Anonymous said...

Makes me think the person was a current staff member at ET :)

Anonymous said...

I just noticed that the Media Watch blog is gone. (dxbsumo.wordpress.com) Anyone know what happened? It was a very opinionated page and seemed to have the inside scoop on the mismanagement at UAE media. From Labor headaches to editorial biases it covered everything. I miss it already.

secretdubai said...

seemed to have the inside scoop on the mismanagement at UAE media

I rather suspect that was to blame. The mismanagers of an organisation were probably on MW's back.

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