Breaking the boundaries and breaking the law

November 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm (new age journalism) ()

The world of journalism is a more open one; it is one that has become more accessible to everyone who has access to the internet.

Blogging has really thrown journalism into a spin. It has made traditional journalists panic that their trade is at stake and put them into a state of fear if they feel they cannot keep up with the changing pace in technology. The Bivings Report highlighted these fears in its article on newspaper and provided suggestions for what newspapers need to be doing to keep up with the pace of the internet.

However, the problem with the proliferation of blogging among member of the public is that it is a risky business. Shane Richmond says that the key to successful blogging is to find a niche and make you blog different in some shape or form. But what if this niche is a dangerous one, where people end up putting false information out there, or break the law through libel? Or even, in the extremist level, they are aggressive and make threats that are deemed to be dangerous.

Most members of the public are not aware of media law and do not know what can be defined as libel or slander. This makes it easy to create content that breaks these laws, and affect people’s reputations. In some cases, this content is more dangerous than what is published in a newspaper, as the internet it quicker, available to be seen by more people and can be seen by users all over the world.

And media laws are not the only laws that can be broken through the increasing use of publication by the public on the internet. Laws regarding threatening behaviour can be broken so easily, whether it is plausible that it could be carried out in real life or not.

Over the past couple of months, there have been two cases which have caught my eye, that show the dangers of the internet, one related to blogging, and one related to social networking.

The first case is the case of Darryn Walker, who threatened to rape and murder Girls Aloud. Some may put it down to harmless comment on the internet, but looking at the content, it does not appear that harmless. The man who wrote it may not have wanted to actually carry out the acts he described, but that does not make it any less threatening. He also seemed to have misplaced the power of the internet; how many people it could reach and how seriously some of the readers would take it.

The second one is more sinister. This case involves a mother, whose daughter had fallen out with her friend, 13 year old Megan Meier. She signed onto msn, pretending to be a young boy and made a relationship with the girl, and then started to send her abusive messages. Megan then committed suicide after her online relationship ended.

I’m not saying that the increase in social networking and blogging is a bad thing. Generally, I am in favour of it. It provides people with a voice and allows us to get a different perspective of things. But I think we need to keep in mind that, as with most things, it is open to abuse. It can be very dangerous and we need to be wary of the content that is given to us


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Campaign for change…by politicising the internet

November 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm (new age journalism) (, )

Source Flickr user Mykl Roventine

While doing my best to try to stay awake past the 2am spot to watch the US election, I realised how far the world of blogging had come. No, I didn’t have some kind of vision that showed me the power of the internet but it was a comment from one of the presenters that started the wheels turning. They mentioned that not only had it been the most expensive and long-drawn election, but that it had been the biggest internet based election, with blogs, twittering and all sorts of other vast internet tools that are beyond my knowledge having been used in the campaigns and media reports.

Blogs were used all over the world, by both the media and the public, and played a massive role in shaping the direction of the election. Just a few examples were the Spectator, the Guardian and the BBC. You only have to log into word press to see that the hot topic in the latest blogs, including this one (ironic I know) are about the election.

One of the main things about this hub of internet political participation is that it is probably not the first, and it will definitely not be the last time that this will happen. It just so happens that because the election was such a huge event all over the world that people really stood up and took notice of how much blogging was really going on. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised either, I hadn’t really considered how many people out there were blogging and using it, not only to push their own stories about their lives or their interests but to push political voting and campaigning. If you type ‘US election blogs’ into google you get 37,900,000 results. Obviously some may not be as relevant as others, but it is an indication in itself of how much activity is out there.

As for twitter, that was being used as a kind of mini blog with constant streaming and updating. The BBC used twitter to keep everyone up to date and other websites such as the Guardian used it to made people aware of new blogs on the election. And it was not just used for the results. Barack Obama was praised for his campaign team’s use of the internet to connect with voters that otherwise he would be unable to, as seen in the video below.

The only problem is that I was told this week that blogs needed to be interesting. I wasn’t sure what to make of this remark. Obviously, your blog has to interest someone, or it is never going to be read, and an entirely self indulgent blog is not particularly pleasant to read either. But surely what makes a blog interesting is completely subjective? If I take the example of pig farming, something I’m not particularly interested in myself, but something like this blog (about farming), I’m sure other pig farmers would find interesting.It’s difficult for decide what makes a good blog, and both the writer and the reader are being entirely subjective. However, as long as there is a variety of opinions and topics out there, and I can only see it growing, then there is going to be something to interest everyone.

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