Monday, August 14, 2006

Blogs v/s conventional media

The debate is all over again.

The trigger is Charles Johnson’s expose on his blog Little Green Footballs on Aug 5 of how a photograph of Beirut -- after an Israeli air strike, taken by Adnan Hajj -- was significantly manipulated before being published, a serious breach of journalistic ethics.

This issue has been discussed in The Guardian by Patrick Barkham, and in The Christian Science Monitor by Randy Dotinga.

When we didn’t have the benefit of today’s technology, people had only the conventional media to look up to when they needed information. Now, the scope and dynamics of mass media have expanded by exponential proportions. Thus, the extent of reliance on newspapers or TV for news has been reduced with the advent of mobile phones and blogs.

But to run down the conventional media as biased is not correct. Journalistic practices have remained essentially the same down the ages. Today because of improved technology, the few genuine mistakes that journalists commit and the few black sheep in profession are exposed much easily and widely.

Let us not be overawed by the phenomenon of blogs. It’s another medium of expression with its own inherent advantages and disadvantages. It’s wholly wrong to assume that what is on a blog is the ultimate truth. If a blog has to be credible, its author has to work hard in the pursuit of information. Whether you are a professional journalist, citizen journalist or freelance journalist, the journalistic work is exacting, it takes pains and effort.

The Lebanese photographer Hajj may have doctored images. Reuters immediately acknowledged the error, once it was brought to its notice. And, it removed the photographer immediately. It’s commendable that a blogger like Charles Johnson could detect that. I am sure has worked hard to get to this truth.

One Adnan Hajj does not discredit the entire conventional media, just as one Charles Johnson does not mean everything that appears on millions of blogs is the ultimate truth. There is nothing like absolute objectivity. Everything is seen through someone’s eyes. A blogger can distort information and doctor images as much as anyone else. Only that blogs are not under so much of scrutiny as conventional media.

The tendency of some bloggers to be “holier than thou” vis-à-vis conventional media is not healthy and must be curbed. Citizen journalists and professional journalists have to draw from each other so that technology-facilitated mass communication becomes more comprehensive and serves the purpose it is intended to.


  1. Absolutely correct. Bloggers like any other source is just an information , everything needs to be rechecked and re-evaluated when taking into account the seriousness of the issue..

    Thanks for ur comments.

  2. Blogggers can be expected to be truthful because blogging is not obligatory and there is no obligation thrust on anybody to blog.
    Newspapers can lie, contort truth because it is a business.
    Blogging are like soliloquies -- expecting nobody to hear that.