Sunday, March 06, 2005

Freedom - you were nice to know - part XVI

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc.: The Gathering Storms Over Speech

Dan Gillmor, a journalist, writes about how freedom and the press:
We're moving toward a system under which only the folks who are deemed to be professionals will be granted the status of journalists, and thereby more rights than the rest of us. This is pernicious in every way.

Mass media journalists and their bosses should be leading the fight against what's happening to bloggers. I fear they won't, because old media typically refuses to defend the rights of new entrants until the threats against the new folks directly threaten everyone. But my former colleagues in Big Media should understand that when we distinguish among kinds of journalists, discriminating against some because they're not working for organizations deemed worthy (or powerful) enough, trouble will arrive soon enough for everyone.

In a world where anyone can be a journalist, we can't let government or Big Media decide who has the right to inform the public about matters of interest or urgency. The priesthood should be dissolving, not gaining strength -- yet rulings and legislation like these move things in precisely the wrong direction.
This is a multi-pronged program:

1. Limit the global right to free speech.
2. Limit the definition of who gets the broader protections afforded journalists to those who are employed by legal corporations.
3. Control the entities that employ journalists.

An obvious short term response is to incorporate the amateur journalists. Create a corporation and charge a small fee to join. Have the corporation publish a newsletter made up of a random selection of member postings. The newsletter is financed by the feeds of the members. All the members are now journalists.

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