Yesterday I visited an NVJ-internet meeting I told about in my previous post. The meeting was devided in two parts. In the first part the famous Iraki blogger Raed talked about the way he writes about life in Iraq. The second part was planned to be a discussion about journalism and new media (weblogs in particular).
Raed told us how he started with his weblog just to communicate with his friends, among which is Salam Pax. But in a while he recieved a lot of requests for more information about the actual situation in Iraq. Raed decided to write about in in his weblog.
Read explained that most of his visitors are from the United States. He is sure that the only visitor from Iraq is his mother, who has her own weblog as well.
The purpose of Read’s weblog is to control and deconstruct the traditional media reporting about Iraq. He uses global available facts and pictures to ‘check’ if the traditional media are doing a good job.
A lot of (American) readers see Raed as a representative of the Iraqi people. Read reacts furiously on this and says that his weblog only represents his own opinion and that he never had the illusion that he could represent others with his weblog.
Journalists vs. weblogs
The second part of the evening was occupied by a discussion about new media and their consequences on journalism. It is an understatement to say that the discussies was animated. I sensed among the journalist a gigantic fear of weblogs. They are seen as a threath to journalism, in stead of a huge opportunity. The discussion was heavilly dominated by selfappointed internet expert Francisco ‘the finger’ van Jole. He immediately stated that weblogging never can be seen as any form of journalism.
Luckilly there were some Belgian researchers who stood up agianst Van Jole and his rock steady opinion. One of them came with the great metaphore which compared weblogging as a tool to the pen and paper. It is just another way of writing and publishing. I had a nice conversation with them after the discussion in the bar of the hotel where the meeting was held. (Maarten blogged a nice story about this night: Live From Brussels
Afer all I noticed that a lot of journalist are very arrogant in the way they look at new media. Webloggers can never be journalistic because they (all) don’t follow the journalistic values of independent reporting, they are always subjective. I strongly doubt that. I don’t think there is such thing as complete objectivity. This generation of readers knows that some newspapers are reporting from a specific perspective. The new generation will be able to do the same at weblogs: making their own choice of which medium, newspaper of weblog to believe.