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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Blog Standards Revisited (again):

"If blogs are to be taken seriously, they should live up to the standards of accountability and reliability of the mainstream media that they so deplore."

Sajan Venniyoor takes some pot-shots at the blogosphere, and much of what he says is true, at least on a superficial level. But Sajan takes the idea too far, and what he doesn't understand is the blogosphere must be kept free of legal and bureaucratic encumbrances, no different than the fundamental right of freedom of speech itself.

Sajan sez ......"In June this year, the youth magazine JAM (Just Another Magazine) ran a rather unflattering story on the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM).

...it says much about the navel-gazing quality of the virtual world that few bloggers realize that blogging is a minority interest, and that even in the wired West, it’s only when they bring down a Dan Rather that their online crusades merit serious media or public attention.

If blogs are to be taken seriously as an alternative medium, they should measure up to the standards of accountability and reliability of the mainstream media that the bloggers so deplore. Not so long ago, a fairly popular blog took pot shots at that media behemoth and everybody’s favorite target, the Times of India. The blog’s readers were much amused; the Times less so. A legal notice was duly slapped on the blogger - a perfectly valid one in this case. Discretion prevailed over valour, and the blog closed down voluntarily. There was some outcry over the strong-arm tactics of the Times, but what is significant is that no attempt was made either to defend or substantiate the hostile comments made in the blog."

Writing on the 'net is no different than writing to the local newspaper editor. It's just that the technology gives blogging a much broader reach, and does not require the blessings of an editor to decide whether or not you get published.

It is the editor of public opinion that will decide if you are read. There is nothing more democratic than that. And that is a good thing because freedom of speech has never been so powerful, or so vulnerable.

That is why we see repressive regimes like China doing its darndest to plug the blogosphere. They understand its power. But in the free world discussions about imposing standards is absurb and as dangerous as the Nazi book burnings of pre-WW11.

I can see only two possible exceptions to this. The first would be those pundits who consider themselves professional blogger/journalists who want to be taken seriously. It goes without saying they should be aspiring to the same standards of mainstream media.

After all, if you are going to compete with the big boys and want be accepted on that level then you have to play the game according to the same rules.

Secondly, sites like the daily FISK that use satire humor, and clearly state in their faqs they should not be taken seriously and read for entertainment purposes only.

Otherwise, as for the rest of the joe (or josephine) bloggers out there the wired west has to be kept free. Not since the invention of the printing press has so much power been given to so many, and it must be protected at any cost.

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2 Comments: 'It's your turn to toss the ball'...

At 2:56 AM, Anonymous dion said...

I totally agree. Well said.

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At 5:05 PM, Anonymous dittohead said...


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