Blame the nasty bloggers, not their Blogs

I’ve been interested to read a lot of criticism of blogging and Twitter in recent days.

First, DCU lecturer Colum Kenny took ‘bloggers’ and ‘emailers’ to task of their abuse of journalist Niamh Horan, who was attacked after taking a photograph of someone of interest in Portugal.

I don’t generally read the Sunday Independent and I would not be a fan of some of the things that Horan has done in the past, but no one should be afraid for their personal safety and no one should be ever become the target of abuse for doing their job.

However, why attack the publishing platform when it’s people that are putting such trash talk out there? If a letter was sent to the Editor repeating some of the sentiments, is the medium of letter writing also to blame? Or the pen or the paper?

An article questioning various Tweeters’ behaviour of Twitter followed in this weekend’s Sunday Times. Again, Twitter is the published platform – it’s like excusing bullies and blaming the handwritten notes and chain letters from our school days.

I have worked in the online media industry since 2000 and seen and experienced the issues that ‘press’ journalists have with websites, forums and even Social Media platforms.

I’ve been asked to leave a press conference room and join another group of radio and TV journalists while representing a website. More recently, I was directed towards a TV interview an Irish golfer had completed after asking his representatives if I could speak with him – again, while writing for a website.

Those involved in the press industry will point to the resources newspapers and other media outlets have to spend on fact checking, subbing, travel expenses etc but most readers do realise the difference between reading a blog and a newspaper article.

We look for facts to support the story and if it’s just a series of conclusions and personal opinions – like many newspaper columns – then most readers have the smarts to conclude that it might not be all that dependable. Equally, newspapers have been guilty of published stories without fully checking facts. It does not mean that either publishing platform is to blame.

Instead, if I read a Blog or newspaper and I don’t like the way it goes about its business, then I won’t read it again. I don’t assume that all Blogs and Newspapers are the same because there are excellent examples of both across the world and it would be a real shame to lose either medium as a communication tool.

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