Chris Trotter, like myself, was at the Labour party conference a week and a half ago. Like myself and damn near every left wing blogger who was there, he saw a massive discordance between what was being reported and what was actually happening in the conference. And since then, well, the hysteria at having a carefully constructed fiction of media and the beltway PR being torn to pieces by ordinary citizens writing has been extraordinary.
Chris has written a post on it.
SOMEWHERE THERE’S GOT TO BE a focus-group report. Nothing else adequately explains the current behaviour of the “mainstream media” (MSM). Somewhere, somehow, someone has been incautious enough to ask a representative sample of readers, listeners and viewers how often they read, and what sort of credence they give to, the blogs. Their answers appear to have shocked some journalists into full-scale retaliation.My guess is that the consumers of news and opinion are not abandoning the MSM altogether – not yet. Most probably it’s still just a case of people turning to the blogosphere for a second opinion. The big problems will only arise when the stories people read on the blogs begin to sharply contradict stories being printed in the newspapers and broadcast over radio and television. That’s when the MSM should really begin to worry.But if the note of alarm that has crept into the MSM’s coverage of blogs – especially political blogs – over the past few weeks is anything to go by, some of that worrying has already begun. The final edition of The Nation, broadcast on TV3 last weekend, warned ominously of the potentially destabilising political influence of the left-leaning blog The Standard. Senior Parliamentary Press Gallery journalists have launched repeated attacks against “anonymous bloggers” with many eagerly accusing their blogs of playing a sinister role in David Cunliffe’s alleged “attempted leadership coup” at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference.
The tone of these attacks leaves little doubt that not only do these political journalists consider bloggers to be unwelcome and illegitimate contributors to the nation’s political discourse, but that nothing would make them happier than to see them tightly regulated and controlled. It’s an attitude that should send a shiver down every New Zealander’s spine. A genuine “Fourth Estate” would welcome the democratisation of the gathering and distributing of news which the Internet has made possible. That so many MSM journalists have greeted the competitive spur of the blogosphere with a mixture of self-serving patch-protection and outright authoritarianism is cause for considerable concern.It also casts much of their recent reporting of political news in a new and worrying light. If the truth is indeed out there, then presumably it’s as readily accessible to bloggers as it is to members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery? If both are present at the same event, then their reports should be (with obvious allowance for nuance and emphasis) at least broadly similar? But what if they are not similar? What if the MSM’s coverage of Event X is radically at odds with both the experience of participants and the reportage of bloggers? Wouldn’t that raise some extremely disturbing questions about the credibility and trustworthiness of MSM journalism?
Indeed… And then he points out that this is exactly what many bloggers who were actually at the Labour party conference two weekends ago saw. And I am sorry that Brian Edwards was not one of those watching the modern news media in action. He’d have loved to have seen how different the actual conference was to the message that the media reported. It would have kept him on posts for weeks. Instead we got this
Now ordinarily I’d dismiss the type of hysteria that we have seen in the last week as being the usual ranting by the opponents of change. However at the same time as this is going on, we are also seeing some action on the Law Commission’s extremely poorly written set of recommendations about cyber-bullying of teens. Or that is how it is being sold. The reality is somewhat different.
Unlike David Farrar, I think that from this turgid mess we will get law that is ostensibly for a pious purpose, but could so easily be turned to stripping privacy whenever anyone has a unsubstantiated complaint. As it currently stands there is no protection against misuses of any information obtained through the proposed procedures apart from a government appointed psuedo-court who can be easily subjected to pressure from groups like our byline addicts in the media. After all this is the government of Paula Bennett with her serial abuses of privacy for political gain. Who could trust them?
That violates several important underpinnings of net culture. Not to mention the explicit privacy provisions of our policy. So rather than co-operating with NetSafe or whoever to get rid of a few malefactors, I’m going to have to help people to learn how to making any open-ended law like that proposed ineffectual before it gets put before the house. On the way through, it will probably destroy our ability to cooperate with getting rid of some malefactors even if we wanted to do so.
I’m a programmer. It looks pretty simple avoid such a unlimited law in the classic internet style. Time for outlining some code