Emphasis is increasingly being placed on the creation of personal journalist brands. These brands are centred around a journalist’s specific opinions and views – but is there a level of risk in this necessary personalisation?
On googling this idea I found a forum on which various online contributors discuss the dangers of blogging, one of whom says: “Is blogging inherently safe? No. Anytime you express controversial opinions in a public forum you are subjecting yourself to some level of risk.”
This idea of safety through internet publication is one I began considering after reading the Media Guardian this week – the front page of which was dedicated to the brutal beating of Mikhail Beketov.
Beketov may not have been widely using the internet for his publication but the general idea that journalists are being targetted more than ever for broadcasting controversial opinions on a worldwide scale is one that cannot go unmentioned.
Speaking for the Christian Science Monitor, Alexandra Marks suggested journalists are no longer objective communicators but have become representatives of nations and cultures: “To some attackers, who are accustomed to a government controlled press, foreign journalists are symbols of their home governments rather than independent, objective news gatherers – targets or political pawns rather than information providers,” – a potentially life threatening position to be in.
Harrowing tales of attacks on journalists in the field are not uncommon so perhaps now is the time to offer safety guidance to those increasingly relying on the internet to publish sometimes controversial and strong-willed opinions.
And let’s not forget hobbiest-writers are as likely to get into strife for publishing opinions as professional journalists. Blogs are subject to no professional hierarchy – if it’s good, it’s read.
Raja Petra Kamarudin, for example – has been detained in Malaysia indefinitely for what were seen as defamatory comments about Islam.
User Generated Content has given people worldwide a platform to express opinions – and behind the safety of a screen.
But I fear it is sometimes too easy to forget that what is being written by one solitary person is capable of being read by vast numbers of people on a global scale.
There are, of course, people who use the security of the internet to their advantage – take the recent online revelation of the Baby P case names, or the leaked names of the BNP members. Two instances in just the last month where people have used the safety and protection of the internet to publish the unpublishable.
As was stated by Communications Editor of The Telegraph, Shane Richmond, contempt of court laws will not survive the web. They are simply being discarded by internet lobbiers.
So while the world adjusts to web based journalism and considers what the unpredictable development of it will bring, what we also have to remember is that laws and safety measures are changing to a potentially dangerous extent.