Vancouver has a couple of small, free newspapers, 24 Hours and Metro, and I think they're great. I love to read them every day, and during my afternoon break I like to do the crossword puzzles, while one of my co-workers does the sudoku. These little newspapers are perfect to read in the bus or the skytrain during the transit to work, and they're handed out free on the street corners. They cover news, entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, business, sports. They have regular columnists and editorial sections where people can e-mail in their opinions about things.
It occurred to me the other day that these little newspapers are very much like blogging. The lines between journalism and blogging have blurred considerably over the past few years. Often it has been the ordinary bloggers who have held the journalists' feet to the fire about various issues. In many ways, blogging has changed the face of the media. In October 2007 a Polish immigrant landed at Vancouver International Airport. He was lost, he did not speak English, and he had a full-blown panic attack. He was tasered -- five times -- by the RCMP, and he died.
The entire event was recorded by Paul Pritchard, another traveler who happened to be in the airport. Pritchard handed his camera and the video to police who told him that they would return the video within 48 hours. Instead, they returned the camera with a new memory card and kept the original with the video, stating that they would not release it in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation. They claimed that witness statements would be tainted if they viewed the video before being interviewed by police. Pritchard went to court to obtain the video, which he then released to the media in November 2007. The Braidwood Inquiry is currently investigating the case, and the four RCMP Officers are being questioned. Since the video evidence has been made public, these four officers will have to tell the truth, which so far they have not. In my opinion, none of them deserves to wear the RCMP uniform.
My point is this -- most of us have slice-of-life blogs. We are able to talk about anything and everything, as long as we follow the basic rules of freedom of speech, which is a right in Canada under the The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I believe in the US that freedom falls under the First Amendment, but you may have to correct me on that.
Every once in a while I like to post things that express my opinion about music, art, politics, religion, lifestyle, fashion -- whatever. I know when I do, that there may not necessarily be people who agree with me, and that's the fun of blogging. I don't mind if you disagree with me -- I'm okay with it. I'm not always going to agree with you either. Wouldn't it be terrible if we all nodded, "Yes, yes" to each other all the time? It's fun to mix it up once in a while. All of you have such fabulous blogs -- I am really impressed with all of them. What an incredibly versatile, talented and intelligent bunch of people inhabit the blogging world. And I always find it refreshing when someone feels strongly about something and blogs about it. Sometimes it takes courage and a little bit of thick skin to post something that you know may not be popular. But every once in a while, one single person can be a voice in the wilderness -- and what a fabulous opportunity that we are given a free forum in which to be that voice. Blog on!