Sunday, January 11, 2004
Blogging: Media Responsibility

I took a picture of this boat in Colombia a few months ago...I think it's amazing that people can live here, but it's also beautiful in its own way that so many things we think we can't live without -- that television that is just one inch bigger -- are so unnecessary if we stop to think for just one second.

In any case, I got this link from Salam Pax's blog and I found it's worth the two minutes it takes you to read.

I recently wrote Salam asking how he feels knowing that with the rising popularity of his website his blog is becoming an alternative news source for many people around the world. I agree with his reply that "what we [Iraqi bloggers] are, or at least that is what I think we should be doing is act like watchdogs." I think this point cannot be overly stressed. With the widespread dissemination of non-official, non-commercial (i.e. non Multi-National Corporation-approved) information that tools like weblogs and the internet provide us, it is great that we should take full advantage of these tools to reach those who would otherwise have no access to first-hand information. As much as the internet is a product of modernity and globalization itself, it presents us with an alternative solution to the ever-narrowing "thinking" space that MNCs leave us. If you look at you will find that this giant business conglomerate alone owns and operates several mainstream media publications: CNN news around the world, Time magazine, People magazine, AOL, ICQ, MapQuest, Warner Bros. entertainment, HBO, Cinemax, several local news channels, Money magazine, InStyle magazine, Sports Illustrated magazine, and several others. It is not just in Iraq, but in Canada, in the US, in Colombia, in the UK, in Germany, in Japan, in Chile, among a few, that we must ask ourselves: how much do we really know? How many Americans do you think know the difference between what their nation claims as its goals and what it does? How many people, who express their anger at those who stand up against the unjustified latest war in Iraq, claiming that they are rejecting or inappreciative of the US proclaimed goals of democracy, peace, and justice, could be helped by simply being better informed about international relations? How many people, whose opinions are based on cliche mottos provided to them by corporations like Time Warner, could be in better positions to advocate true peace, by simply questioning the sources of information they take for granted?

To many what I have just written is so self evident it may seem redundant. Yet so many, too many, people in the so-called first world, especially in the US, never even question their sources of information! It's not because CNN has as its slogan "the most trusted name in news" that it is, in fact, trustworthy. In fact, I would encourage you to do an experiment -- go to Europe, watch CNN during daylight hours (usually it's either from the UK or from Hong Kong), then stay up at night until 5am and watch American CNN news reports. I'm not saying that the news in Europe are perfect but they are farther along the way. You will be amazed by the difference. You will be amazed by the contrast in what each news report emphasizes.

It is great that with the spread of weblogging we are given an important tool to spread information unofficially. Let us use this tool responsibly, to promote thinkers who are able to question and make educated decisions in creating their opinions.


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