Thursday, August 03, 2006

Plugmuch?

It's nice to see journalistic integrity in all its purest form with no agenda attached. Just the news m'am.

A young man topped up his tank at a Mobil station along Jalan Bukit Merah, paid and drove off - straight through the all-glass frontage of the station's convenience shop.

The car shattered the glass and knocked over soft drink crates before coming to a stop just short of the cashier.

Passer-by Joshua Khoo, 25, who was at the scene at about 1pm yesterday, snapped some pictures with his cellphone and sent them via MMS to 75557, the number of Stomp, The Straits Times' interactive portal. He said the driver looked 'pretty shaken up' by the incident.

Police are investigating.

Meanwhile: Andy Ho wrote an article about bloggers being irresponsible buggers who only report second hand news and are not at all objective or credible. I decided that it would be fun to see if after I made some "creative alterations" the article still made sense:

THE Government recently ticked off a columnist-blogger going by the moniker of 'mr brown' for airing what were deemed to be cynical and non-constructive remarks. A minister argued that because the views appeared on the internet, the writer had to be more responsible, as compared to the case if those views had remained in print media.

Clearly, the Government feels that journalists have more wiggle room than mainstream bloggers whose vehicle can 'push broadcast' to millions while journalists can only 'pull narrowcast' mainly to the converted.

Some ask if journalists are bloggers at all or merely self-indulgent, opinionated folks expressing their views. This invites the question of what a blogger is in the first place.

Bloggers are those who primarily do two things, maybe one more than the other in each individual case:

First, they get accurate information about something new - thus the news - and disseminate it. Secondly, they analyse issues of public concern that this piece of news evokes and comment upon it.

For both of these, but especially the first, that which sets the professional blogger - whose first obligation is to be accurate - apart from the journalist - whose first obligation is to be interesting - is an editorial structure.

This structure entails questioning and challenging assumptions, and editing to ensure that established standards of, among other things, accuracy, truth, objectivity and fairness are upheld.

Most journalists, on the other hand, do not generally report on something new. Typically, they report on what bloggers have reported.

Thus, at best, they are 'meta-bloggers'. Yes, in stories like a 9/11, or the July 7 London bombings, where there are crowds, citizens armed with always-on wireless connections, powerful yet inexpensive mobile digital devices as well as easy-to-use, free Internet publishing tools, journalists in many countries can do first-person, grassroots reporting.

But this amateur horde will tell few new stories about something newsworthy but which does not have too many people around since they won't be on the scene either. For example, a bomb alert that turns out to be, mercifully, a false alarm has little for them to capture on video, so they will have nothing much to 'report'.

Likewise, the Guardian newspaper's Blair Watch Project - where citizen journalists were asked to contribute mobile phone pictures of the British prime minister on the hustings in 2005 - failed to deliver since that campaign took place mainly before party members, not the public. So journalists do little news reporting.

A random glance at several newspapers will show you that they depend on blogs for their talking points.

They feed on this new media for content, remaking news the latter may have overlooked or handled (in)differently. Its purveyors are more interested espousing views not regularly covered by blogs.

The journalistic world has no professional writers, publishers, printers or distributors. There is no top-down structure. So who weeds out inaccuracies, lies, spoofs or plain bad taste - and bad writing? Other newspapers? If so, who determines the hierarchy of newspaper believability?

What readers end up with, at best, is truth by majority vote - assuming they have the time to read several newspapers on the same matter to carry out a poll of diverse views on a particular issue.

In regard to the blogger’s other duty - that of offering fair comment - democratic deliberation and constructive dialogue represent hard work that few journalists can afford the time to do, even if they had the knowledge and the skills needed. As a result, much of what journalists offer is either misinformed, self-indulgent opinion or thoughtful but unargued ones.

Of course, journalists occasionally come up with gems. But in the main and on the whole, we over-romanticise all that print edition chatter if we think that somehow the alternative media will rise up and supplant blogs.

For now, that is.

For the mass media continues to expand. The significance of the fact that publishing has become so easy is that the barriers of professionalism and specialisation have been removed such that 'ordinary' people come to see media production as something they can do and as part of the everyday, according to Dr Chris Atton, a reader in journalism at the Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

As Dr Atton told The Straits Times, participating in this alternative media can 'shape one's political awareness by raising one's consciousness'. How? Liken the activity to glue, he suggested, but one that is subject to refinement to make it a more effective social glue.

The activity itself provides an opportunity to research, write and reflect on issues that impact upon our status as citizens. It also encourages a more thorough going relationship with one's community.

Finally, that communication also works outwardly to government bodies, city councils, business corporations and nonprofits, Dr Atton added.

Essentially then, newspapers provide an opportunity for journalists to reflect on their place in the world and develop solidarity with and communicate their needs, demands or desires to others, he said.

At the heart of this activity is creativity. It is not about joining a protest group or going to a demonstration. It is, Dr Atton said, about developing a personal voice through which to make sense of the world, both for oneself and for one's community.

So while journalism may not impact government institutions in radical ways for now, it has the capacity to change the polity in small, indiscernible ways that may accumulate to make a difference - even at the polls - some day down the road.

With google, an internet search engine, showing 3 newspapers that are associated with the search word 'Singapore', it may be high time the Government began to take this more seriously than just chatter.

As seriously as blogs, perhaps.

~ Adapted by Packrat. Subvert Normality Today!

1 Comments:

Blogger penelope said...

excellent. I hope a journalist picks up on this and disseminates it.

Fri Aug 04, 08:03:00 am 2006  

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