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Session 2: Best of Both Worlds (Part 3) December 10, 2005

Posted by delal in GV05, Session 2.
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Continued Transcript:

Dean Wright – Can I jump in for a second? Speaking as a rep of the main stream media, I think it’s not an either or situation… the tsunami showed, and as emergencies have shown, we in the main stream media need bloggers who are in place around the world… certainly in the us, when the tsunami hit, there was almost no footprint of any us media orgs in affected areas. In many areas that was the only way we would find out what was going on. So it really is… there is a symbiotic relationship here. Another point that Jeff made that was really good : we can find context… report context It’s difficult as a main stream journalist to report all sides of a story when you’re just parachuting in. What we at Reuters can do.. how we can benefit from the blogosphere is being able to report many sides of an issue. This contributes to the conversation that the world has with each other. It’s one of the things we at Reuters take seriously, bringing that conversation to the world to the fore. We have a mission, at Reuters, to be independent, free of bias, to report news straight down the middle, and we do. But we also have are ways to show the many voices on all sides of an issue.

Rebecca MacKinnon- Thanks Dean. Now to Neha

Neha Viswanathan – I don’t think you can say b and j are related to each ohter in a specific manner…it’s very contextual, especially in India; main stream media is scared of reporting what really goes on in India, to scare away for investors. When journalists don’t do their job, bloggers do it. But at the same time, in Nepal, the blogs support main stream media. For instance, the issue of (? Fm), stopped by the government, or when bbc was stopped by the government, bloggers stepped up and said no, we need this media. It was bloggers who filed a case in the supreme court, and aggregated opinions from around the world about freedom of expression in main stream media. Another thing : challenging media. In media we have huge instances of plagiarism; where newspapers borrow from blogs without giving credit. It’s a huge issue. Finally, do bloggers want to be journalists in the first place? Do they want to be seen as members of the press? Do they want id cards? Recently we had a huge fiasco, the ibm fiasco – where an institute has paraded itself as something its not; a blogger had to quite his job because he felt it jeopardized his interest in the company. He explained he has an opinion, and has a right to his opinion whether or not he’s a journalist…these are some of the issues seen in south asia.

Rebecca MacKinnon- Thanks. I want to throw out a number of questions…One of the things we try to accomplish is, to also hash through difficult questions… we’re bringing attention to bloggers some of who might consider themselves journalists some of whom don’t, some use real names, native language, some not. How do we vouch for their credibility we’re using a distributed net – trusting our regional editors have a pretty god idea of who these people are, why they’re linking to them in context; That it’s not a cia agent posing as an iraqi blogger or something like that. There is that kind of question – how do we make sure people trust what we’re doing? As we try to call attention… perhaps making sure we’re not calling attention to false voices/disinformation. Also, what is the responsibility of bloggers? Jeff talked about how we’re really stepping up attention. Does this change how people are blogging, or linking? Do you have to make sure you’re not linking to someone with neo-nazi affiliations, would that affect your own credibility and that of global voices? To what extent does the responsibility for what one person you linked to [did] reflect upon you and then the larger community we’re increasingly a part of –I’m very interested in hearing these issues and people’s perspectives on that. It’s one thing when you’re writing about the people you know; another when you’re writing about hundreds of people, and trying [to be comprehensive, etc]

John West – What really interests me is fusion and on how you build trust or reliability; there are many other ways – webs of trust, peer review + centralized review, on sites like slashdot or on wikipedia… all of those sites make user contributor/history available, complete versioning if you like once those systems are introduced (it may be that blogging communities don’t want to do that, if it offends their ethos — we are focusing on voice, and that voice should be unfettered but if you’re focusing on the info side of media; as well as voice; these mechanisms exist and can be adapted. They would be coming more from the professional media side, seeking to embrace blogging. but that would make a huge difference in the way newsrooms with limited time review 13 diff sources coming in from Sri Lanka. That’s the first point. This second : we’re largely thinking about media as it reflects international and national. I work with internews; working mostly to develop new traditional media; mostly helping people get things up and running : tv, radio stations; improve the ones that exist. Less than half the people in the world have significant access to media; finding a remote village with sat-tv doesn’t really [capture] it. Finding media in your own language, even in the right gauge (many languages have high and low level] with correct degree of sensitivity to local issues; less than half have significant access to radio/tv. Our work is geared to extending the reach of diverse/independent media, largely traditional. I think there’s a tremendous opportunity; the blogosphere will arrive at the same time; if you’re talking about going into the sahara in w. Africa, or rural India, or many other places; about the bottom of the pyramid; the 1.2B people who live on less than $1 a day The blogosphere will arrive at the same time as traditional media. So we now have an opportunity to build completely fused media. Sorry – I’ll stop in a second… but a lot of this discussion is about how the blogosphere interacts with currently existing traditional media. If (nobody really knows) we think more than half the world’s pop can’t be classed as having significant access to media, let’s try and fuse it; make sure.. and I’m issuing an open invite to everyone in this room. We have projects of various different kinds on 50 countries in the world, come talk to me about how we can do [these things] in your areas.

Rebecca MacKinnon – This is absolutely true. We’re at a point where we can shape the future. One of the reasons I’m here instead of at my old job is I believe we [can do this], decide what to do to shape the future, who we can be working with at all these different levels, so people can communicate about what matters to them.

Mary (Page or Joyce?) – I’m glad you talked about credibility. I want to talk about the strengths of subjectivity, to me, journalism is about telling someone else’s story; blogging can be telling your own story. For me this is so important; since I’m doing a democratization blog; this is people saying this is what democracy means to me; it will be biased b/c it’s their opinion, but there’s a place for subjectivity and “what this means to me”. There’s a place for bloggers that /cant/ be taken by traditional journalism; which is interesting.

Rebecca MacKinnon – it’s almost like a convenient division of labor; wire journalists say I’m supposed to be out here being objective and straight; and bloggers having license to be subjective

Sokari Ekine – Just one point. As long as we’re individuals, we don’t have protection from any organization; we can blog anonymously or as ourselves if as ourselves… sometimes, writing about issues in our own blogosphere –For instance I blog about lesbian and gay issues on a continent that’s really homophobic, every time you press ‘send’ you set yourself up for some very negative responses. Lisa said something about people saying why was a self-hating jew on the one side, and a [palestinian apologist] on the other side. Every time I send out posts, I have no protection other than myself. I have to deal with that; I’m not within an organization that can have some support…so do you self-censor?

Ory Okolloh- I think ndesanjo from tanz was going to speak on journalists in Africa; I don’t think…

(interjecting)Rebecca ManKinnon – His plane just got killed by weather; so despite the the obstacles he surmounted, it got cancelled.

Ory Okolloh – I just want to say that in Africa… from Kenya, it hasn’t been off to a good start. The first interaction was plagiarism didn’t publish as his own, but there was no source given…The blogging community eventually forced it to be cited; with a formal apology letter from the editor in chief. There was a whole debate about what plagiarism was. It was relentless…(the response) there have been a few websites that have appeared, but where I see the role of bloggers in Africa : we’re playing a role that the main stream media isn’t doing. I write from an individual perspective; sometimes I’m more real – about observations -then we have lazy journalists, then there’s corruption…[these are all differences] there are some online journals in Nigeria; I see bloggers as filling that huge gap and spurring journalists to be more serious. If I can over the referendum as an individual with on resources just observing Nairobi today with cnn/bbc/reuters all telling people they don’t know what’s going on [and are reading here?] There’s a huge gap there. I hope as more get online, both western and African… [why are /we/ not covering Africa as Africans?] I see global voices linking to what’s going on .But the role is more than just being another voice.

Rebecca MacKinnon – Lisa next.

Lisa Goldman – about main stream media: yes, when you’re writing a story, you want to attract readers; blood and guts gets readers. When I went to gevalia recently, I photographed people on a beach at a picnic, and a girl from a birthday party and without comment I put it up on my blog. I just said “a day in gaza” and opened it up I had comments saying “I =thought everyone in gaza was a masked gunman…” “i’d never seen a photo in the main stream media of people in gaza just living their lives. Main stream media has to find a balance [including] what people want to hear and what their editors want to hear.

(Tagged: gv2005, globalvoices)

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