Thursday, August 16, 2007

Those Who Have Ears To Hear

"Maybe bloggers should enjoy the freedom while it lasts, because surely it will not be long before nasty litigiousness spoils bloggers' fun and forces the blogging community to watch its Ps and Qs, like every other person who is involved in publishing."
And thus spake the 'gatekeeper' class.

Jane Fynes-Clinton, Courier-Mail journalist takes a sneering and condescending look at bloggers in her Perspective piece today and spends 766 words (not including byline and head) taking a pre-emptive strike at those who express and publish their opinions without the benefit of a journalism degree or MEAA Union Card.

How the media at large feels about blogging can be summed up by the line-art illustration found in the print edition (interestingly enough, not the online edition) which a sewage pipe expels excrement shaped as 'blogs blogs blogs'.

That is to say, 'how dare the great unwashed express opinions unfiltered by editors and moderators'.

Like most journalists Ms Fynes-Clinton appears to have only a fleeting understanding about the world of blogging, fixating on rude and rambunctious web sites without coming out and saying that the topics most likely to create immoderate posts and comments are ones to do with politics and journalism - two areas where the mainstream media feels it has a monopoly.

People blog for a number of reasons, for friends Ingo and Neto of Highland Warriors it's to share observations of life and family and for Manolo The Shoe Blogger, it's all about the shoes.

And to Ms Fynes-Clinton, that's just fine - check out the pejorative language in this paragraph:

For some, blogging is not the harmless, personal communication it once was. There is also the more serious side: in the past couple of years, it has become possible for people to make livings from blogging.
Making a living! The very idea!

That's stepping into journalists' domain of news disseminators and opinion makers and that cannot allowed to stand unchallenged.

As for Nick and myself, despite once being members of the fourth estate, our Thin Man Returns blog would likely be the type Ms Fynes-Clinton would like to take with 'the red pen of an editor'.

Mind you she doesn't make the same offer to sub the work of the intemperate Phillip Adams, but then, he's likely to still be a card carrying member of the union and thus above reproach.

The most revealing paragraph comes early in the piece:

'Some places, such as government departments, are scared of them.'
Other places afraid of bloggers are the mainstream media outlets where sharp bloggers, using distributed research and individual professional expertise holds the media to account for the very first time in history.

Amongst the high profile scalps claimed by the blogs includes the forced retirement of Dan Rather over his credulous use of faked memos in a report on George W Bush in 2004. Last year Reuters news agency was forced to sack photographers covering the Israel-Hezbollah war over widely distributed fake photographs and has recently as today it was up to the blogosphere to chip Agence France Presse on its misleading photo story about fighting in Iraq.

No wonder they're scared, no wonder they're going on the attack.

For what it's worth I've cross-posted in The Courier-Mail's comments section. I doubt it will be used - it's too long and too critical - but that's okay.

I can have my say here and so can you.

-- Nora

UPDATE: US Journalism professor discovers that more than 46% of all newspaper stories have errors of fact and less than 2% of all reported errors are corrected.

I wonder how the Australian media would fare in a similar experiment?

UPDATE II: Well there you go - the Courier-Mail moderators did publish this post on their site. I salute you.

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