Thursday, June 07, 2007

We are all 'free speech' machines!

I'm going to tell you some stories that I think illustrate the disruptive effects that blogging has had, and the democratic potential it represents. But let me say at the outset that, though a blogger myself, I am not a triumphalist about blogging. I do not think that the age of fully democratic media is suddenly upon us because we have this new form. There is a long way to go if we are to make good on its potential.

That's journalism professor Jay Rosen (New York University), on the journalistic potential of blogging (some of which has already been realized). He goes on to offer five stories, all from the US, to illustrate his view. With my own limited knowledge, I can think of only two such stories in India: the IIPM story that broke in October 2005, and the blogspot ban in July 2006. But they are not in the same league as Rosen's stories, because both threatened Indian bloggers directly; that some public purpose was served was a secondary (but important!) outcome. Can you think of any success story -- even a minor one -- involving Indian blogs in the journalistic realm involving some public interest?

Before I end, I just want to excerpt these very inspiring paragraphs in Rosen's article:

The most famous words ever written about freedom of the press are in the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law..." But the second most famous words come from the critic A.J. Liebling: "freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." Well, freedom of the press still belongs to those who own one, and blogging means practically anyone can own one. That is the Number One reason why blogs--and this discussion--matter.

With blogging, an awkward term, we designate a fairly beautiful thing: the extension to many more people of a free press franchise, the right to publish your thoughts to the world. Wherever blogging spreads the dramas of free expression follow. A blog, you see, is a little First Amendment machine.


  1. Anonymous said...

    The Indian blogosphere's response to the Kherlanji massacre can probably be taken as another example.

  2. Patrix said...

    Usually disaster blogging or post-tragedy (terror attacks) blogging has helped in dissemination of information and aggregation of sources. No more relying on or waiting for 'official' reports