Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Association to Stand Behind "Good Bloggers"
Well, it's official. Bloggers facing legal action will be protected by the UAE Journalist's Association if they abide by the ethical code of the association, wash behind their ears and are kind to small furry animals.
Mohammed Yousuf, the head of the Association, told Emirates Business 24x7's Dimah Hamadeh:
"Bloggers and "virtual" journalists have the right to be protected by the Journalists' Association, provided they abide by the ethics code, including stating of facts and sources of information, avoiding defaming without tangible proof, or provoking hostility arising from religious, sectarian or race discriminations."
Yousuf, displaying a remarkable lack of understanding regarding the 'online world', goes on to tell Hamadeh that audiences still mistrust online media, a lack of credibility that leads to online often being perceived as a channel for spreading rumours and destroying reputations.
Tell that to Arabianbusiness.com, Zawya.com and maktoob.com, will you? Or to the many, many people that intelligently sift online sources to arrive at an informed and wider picture than is often available through the 'traditional' media that Yousuf freely admits in the piece are subject to a greater degree of censorship than online media.
Yousuf tells Hamadeh (who must have been struggling to hold a straight face) that the Association's mission is to "invite bloggers and online reporters to adopt professional standards."
All this on the sidelines of a two-day event that invited bloggers from the UAE and around the region to discuss the role of new media and journalism. I didn't see anyone Tweeting from the conference and I don't know of any bloggers that were there. I certainly didn't get an invite (snif) - did you?
Isn't it funny that the UAE's bloggers NEVER seem to get invited to events where online and 'new' media are being discussed in... err... the UAE?
But I think we're missing quite a big thing in all this talk of protecting bloggers who abide by the ethical code of the UAE Journalists' Association.
Bloggers. Are. Not. Journalists.
The BBC's eminent Hossam Sokkari rather confounded the Arab Media Forum's Token Blogger, Algerian Issam Hamoud, by asking him if he had always wanted to be a journalist - as if being a blogger is something that can only be explained by a frustrated urge to journalism.
I know some excellent journalists that have become bloggers and some excellent journalists who blog alongside their more traditional, more papery, roles. And I know many excellent bloggers that are not, don't want to be and wouldn't dream of being journalists.
I do wish they'd get this into their heads! Bloggers. Are. Not. Journalists.
This is a new thing, not another face of an old thing. It follows new rules - and raises ethical questions and questions of practice that are not touched by old codifications of good journalistic practice.
While I'm sure the UAE Journalists' Association's offer is kindly meant, it's barking up quite the wrong tree.
This story in Gulf News today, that Saudi Arabia is mulling putting an electronic publications law on the anvil, is another and slightly more worrying take on this very topic. Take a look here.