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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Weblogs have reinvigorated "overdue" debate about journalistic methods and ethics

On September 12, the European Parliament hosted a debate on the use of weblogs. The debate was one of three debates on the implications of the information society. Pointing to the differences between blogs and traditional media, Karlin Lillington, technology journalist at the Irish Times, said that "journalists face libel laws, whereas some bloggers behave as if they're in the Wild West. Bloggers will state things without saying where they got them from. And increasingly, blogs are used to promote products without making this clear".

However, Thomas Burg, of BlogTalk.net, counted that "weblogs are not about content but about sharing, learning and connecting with other people" and that blogs should be seen as free converstations between people. Disagreeing with this, Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, claimed that a democratic society sets certain norms and standards and pointed to the lack of global legal framework to fight child pornography and hateful or libelous weblogs. He also said, "People have little time and want to be reasonably confident that the sites they visit are reliable, whereas a lot of weblogs are tripe" and that therefore people will continue to visit websites of traditional news media. But, as the press release about the meeting states, he also said that "the exciting thing about weblogs, however, is that they have reinvigorated the debate about journalistic methods and ethics, a debate long overdue."

Richard Corbett, who was the first member of the European Parliament to start a personal weblog also said he is not optimistic that the accountability and reliability of weblogs could be strengthened. Regarding the issue that blogs somehow damage privacy, Karlin Lillington said that "these are not new crimes, there are just new tools to commit them."

Sources: European Parliament, see also Le Monde (in French)

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on September 29, 2005 at 05:07 PM | Permalink

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