Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blog On...!

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!


the walking man said...

My freedom of speech guaranteed in the US constitution under the first amendment (kudos Jo for knowing that)says i can't yell fire in a crowded theater but I can yell; "HEY I AM FIRST TODAY!"

I can also say I hate Vancouver...I just looked outside and saw two inches of fresh snow on the streets of Detroit...Maybe it's Detroit I hate and not Vancouver...or maybe it's just the damn snow I hate...either way I AM FIRST TO COMMENT TODAY YAY!

lovelyprism said...

Journalism is definitely changing, I agree. I wish we had some of those little free papers here. I have heard the newscasters on Fox News refer to bloggers many times recently, and they use email feedback and twitter! Newspapers are closing all over the world. Hopefully, all the good reporters will find their place in the changing world of journalism.

Ruby Isabella said...

Isn't the internet and blogging amazing?! It gives power back to the many. Things are in such a state of change with the old power structures losing power. So let's all use blogging for a positive influence.

Russell said...

One of my favorite luxuries is to buy a New York Times. Out here in Iowa, well, let's say it is not always easy to get the Times unless you are in a college town or a city -- and most of Iowa is very rural.

It makes me sad our newspapers seem to be fading away but with the internet and so many news channels on TV it is not overly surprising.

You are right as The Walking Man pointed out - freedom of speech is protected by the 1st Amendment of our constitution (which, of course, only applies to government action -- not to private situations so you have no freedom of speech in my home!).

Also included in that amendment is freedom of the press and freedom to peacefully assemble (along with protection of religious freedom and the right to petition the government).

But I agree that blogging certainly allows the voice of the people to be heard!

introspection said...

Beautiful blog Jo. You have given a new meaning to blogging. Yes, it is fast, very fast becoming an important feature of life. Most media gurus, & corporate executives are getting into organised, secretive, advertorial, and professional blogging. I hope it remains a personal domain and not become a commercial commodity for exploitation.
For now, let's all enjoy it...!!!

Kimberly said...

If we all agree'd --- imagine how boring IT would all be.

jackc50 said...

blog on bloggers. freedom of speech is under attack everywhere in the world as goverments and their lackeys try to ''manage''the news. a free press is vital to a countrie's welfare and that is slowly diappearing. blog on, jack c

Scoobyloves2004 said...

I agree with you, life would be boring if we all agreed on everything. Sometimes its fun to have a nice debate and see all sides of a topic!

Unfortunately, I am afraid good, replicable journalism in the US is on its way out. The news on our local TV stations in Nevada is a joke. Their idea of news is a cat chasing its own tail. (No, really that was the opening topic of one of last weeks 12pm news segments.) I grew up watching 60 Minutes and that is truly the last of the replicable journalism shows. It will be a sad day when the crew retires or much worse, passes away. If I want to know whats really going on in politics, around the world, or right here in my own backyard, I look to the internet. There are plenty of good news sites that produce real news and not the crap you see on TV.

EB said...

A very interesting - and sobering - post. Strangely I find it's much closer to home that my limits on freedom of speech lie. In comments like this, which the non-technical can't easily track, I can say what I like, but in my own blogs, which my older relatives can read, I am more cautious.

Patsy said...

This is exactly what I meant when I told you about my political blog: It's left to the bloggers to tell unpopular truths.

Regular print newspapers are losing money and closing up shop.

Bloggers have contributed a lot to exposing political shenanigans.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I started this adventure in blogging as a way to keep in touch with my kids and not have to repeat the same story many times. I wasn't expecting anyone else to read or even care what I had to say. I feel that I am now well-informed on many subjects and have encountered some wonderful people in the process. I didn't expect to enjoy it this much!

Charles Gramlich said...

That poor guy. Whoa! That's terrible.

Nancy said...

Yes! You are so right about everything you said in this post. My husband and I were just discussing the role of newspapers and whether or not it is bad that they are starting to fall. The fact that so much of what we read in newspapers, and other forms of media, is driven by special interests makes them lose some credibility, in my opinion. That being said, I will miss them! I, too, believe the power of blogging is picking up steam. With that will come the bad with the good, unfortunately, but the power to lie to "the people" is becoming more difficult!

Paula Slade said...

Arley and Lover of Life said it quite well!! But, thank goodness we live in countries where we have the gift of freedom of speech. (IMHO) I do believe the Fourth Estate is rapidly becoming a the Fifth Estate of Blogging. ;-)

Dr.John said...

Freedom is a wonderful thing . Free speach is wonderful too as long as the people whose opinions we don't like don't use it. The moto of many seems to be " Let me speak and you shut up!."
Glad to see your not like that.

Deedee said...

We have a free paper called the METRO here in Boston too, Jo -probably affiliated. They put it in the train and subway stations. I used to love to read it when I rode the train. Diversity is what makes blogging(and life in general) great.

Leslie: said...

I enjoy 24 and Metro, too, but don't get it every day as I don't always get out in time to pick one up. They are very popular little newspapers. And I agree with you about how blogging is a great way to express oneself and even if one doesn't agree with someone else's opinion, we should always be respectful of that person's right to his/her opinions.

Country Girl said...

Blog on. I love it. Always a pleasure coming to visit with you, Jo.

TheChicGeek said...

What a great post, Jo. I've been thinking the exact same thing lately. Bloggers are such courageous people and I love them. Don't they just make your day?
Have a wonderful week!

Jo said...

Mark, *chuckle* It's going to rain on Easter weekend here in Vancouver, so by then I will yell "I hate Vancouver!" too.

LovelyPrism, yes, the way people communicate is changing. I rather like it.

Ruby, yes, I think Blogging has definitely changed the world for better.

Russell, yes, it's wonderful, isn't it? And the good thing is, people are having the courage to speak up, and not always be "politically correct". I detest political correctness, just for the sake of it.

Introspection, as long as we retain the courage to speak our minds, I think blogging will remain "free".

Kimberly, if we all agreed, we would all be clones of each other, wouldn't we? What an awful thought!

Jackc50, "A free press is vital to a country's welfare and that is slowly diappearing." Yes! That's why blogging is so important!

Arley, "If I want to know whats really going on in politics, around the world, or right here in my own backyard, I look to the internet." Yes, yes, yes!!!

EB, yes, unfortunately some people have to keep their blogs hidden from employers, etc., which is understandable. And in some countries, people do have to be very careful.

Lorna, "It's left to the bloggers to tell unpopular truths." And sometimes bloggers have to have very thick skins, and a lot of courage!

Kathy, there are some extremely (!!!) interesting, well-informed people in the blogging world, that's for sure!

Charles, yes, it was horrible. I will do a post about the outcome of the Braidwood Inquiry.

LoverofLive, "the power to lie to "the people" is becoming more difficult!" Oh, yes!

Paula, yes, blogging can definitely be described as the Fifth Estate. I can't think of a better use of the term.

Dr. John, "The motto of many seems to be " Let me speak and you shut up!." Yes, and blogging puts an end to that attitude, doesn't it?

DeeDee, yes, the diversity is the most important part of blogging. And people have to learn to accept other folks' ideas.

Leslie, "even if one doesn't agree with someone else's opinion, we should always be respectful of that person's right to his/her opinions." Hear! Hear!

CountryGirl, thank you! Blog on! :-)

TheChicGeek, oh, yes, it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, and express opinions which may not be popular -- at the moment, anyway.

kenju said...


Firefly the Travel Guy said...

I love blogging and although I don't do "news" or "opinion" blogs, I feel that my two photographic blogs do just that. Show people things and places that I love and thus is news and opinion. Makes sense?

Anonymous said...

Wow great post. I have just been reading a UNESCO document called Towards Knowledge Societies, (work/study stuff), where they talk about how info tech is driving society towards greater democracy and free expresion, blogs playing a big part in that process. Again great post.

Kipik said...

Yes! The video is self explanatory. It doesn't matter what they say ; what was said then doesn't matter either: the polish man didn't speak english anyway. the actions are clear: a man on the ground, harmless, defenseless, zaped multiple times even thoug 5 police officers where there, at a time when everyone knew already that one hit was already dangerous. Then the man's heart stops: no attempt to ressucitate: it is man slaughter... unless we are all delusional.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Nose_in_a_book said...

Newspapers aren't all dying off. Some have had the common sense to start spending less on print and more on web development, in the hopes that a good popular website will attract as much advertising money as their print product used to. For some it will work, for others it won't.

I think blogging is great and I read a lot of blogs but I also still believe in trained journalists who know their area of expertise inside out. I think both have their place. Blogs can tell stories from hard-to-reach places, or express opinions that newspaper/website editors might be nervous of getting behind. Journalists with credentials can find out things most of us can't but they are also, hopefully, well versed in the necessity of presenting all sides to a story.

I have to admit that I can't remember the last time I was impressed by TV news. Does anyone watch TV news anymore?

Duncan Mitchel said...

That incident of the tasered man in the airport is shocking, all right. The British have the solution: make it illegal to take pictures of cops (including security guards, no doubt), so we won't have to see such unpleasant things. Then we concentrate on what is really important, like whether Madonna's going to get to adopt another African child, or whether Michelle Obama should cover up her shoulders so that David Brooks won't feel like a wimp compared to her.

Did you know, Jo, that most Americans feel that the news media already give the government too hard a time, and should ease off?