Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fairness Doctrine vs Citizen Journalism

Recognizing the threat of China's growing online community, Chinese President Hu Jintao called in January for the Internet to be "purified", and the government has since launched a number of online crackdowns. Image Credit: AFP

Fairness Doctrine vs Citizen Journalism

Here in the good ol’ USA, we have members of our congress walking the halls complaining about the success of “Talk Radio” and how it needs to be regulated. A recent account observed that senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Hillary Clinton (D-CA) were conversing about how the “Fairness Doctrine” needs to re-implemented in order to curb the free market influences that rule the popularity of this broadcast and communications medium.

This doctrine grew out of concern back in 1949 because of the large number of applications for radio station being submitted and the limited number of frequencies available. Broadcasters had to make sure they did not use their stations simply as advocates with a singular perspective. Rather, they had to allow all points of view. That requirement was to be enforced by FCC mandate. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Federal Communications Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.

It is funny how our currently elected leadership waxes philosophical regarding the limitation of free speech in the face of the communications landscape that exists today. The focus on the success of Talk Radio and the Fairness Doctrine leaves behind the rest of the singularly liberal forces that exist with mainstream broadcast television, newspaper print media, and the educator class that run our universities.

Oh!, And let us not forget the freedom of speech and communication that has become the “Wild West” landscape of the internet. How will our elected leaders like Boxer and Clinton address the internet in light of this concept of the “Fairness Doctrine”? … Maybe they can draw on the experience the political leaders in China.

Excerpts from Agence France-Presse via Breitbart -

'Citizen journalism' battles the Chinese censors
AFP - Jun 24 11:44 PM US/Eastern

In the strictly controlled media world of communist China, "citizen journalism" is beating a way through censorship, breaking taboos and offering a pressure valve for social tensions.

In one striking example this month, the Internet was largely responsible for breaking open a slave scandal in two Chinese provinces that some local authorities had been complicit in.

A letter posted on the Internet by 400 parents of children working as slaves in brickyards was the trigger for the national press to finally report on the scandal that some rights groups say had been going on for years.

The parents' Internet posting was part of a growing phenomenon for marginalised people in China who can not otherwise have their complaints addressed by the traditional, government-controlled press.

"The phenomenon of 'citizen journalism' suddenly arrived several years ago," said Beijing-based dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.

"Since the appearance of blogs in particular, every blog is a new platform for the spread of information."

He cited the example of a couple in the southwestern city of Chongqing who became known as the "Stubborn Nails" in April because they refused to leave their home until they received adequate compensation from the property developer who wanted them out.
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"That case was first revealed through blogs," Liu said.

Also in Chongqing, parts of the city were this month set on fire following the beating of flower sellers by the "chengguan", city police charged with "cleaning up" the city's roads.

Witnesses to the beatings had appealed to local television journalists, but nothing was broadcast.

The incident only became known outside the city thanks to photos and stories published on the Internet, sparking anger among China's netizens.

"It's fascism," said one, while another mocked: "The inhabitants of Chongqing are truly naive, the Chinese media is all controlled by the Communist Party, they decide what people know."
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Recognising the threat of China's growing online community, Chinese President Hu Jintao called in January for the Internet to be "purified", and the government has since launched a number of online crackdowns.

"The department of propaganda has sent out regulations to try and control the opinions being spread on the Internet, but every citizen has the right to criticise or to take part in public affairs on the Internet," said Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai Tongji University.

"The government has to accept the criticisms of the people, it can no longer react crudely like in the past."

Julien Pain, who monitors Internet freedom issues for Reporters Without Borders, is less optimistic.

"One cannot truly say that the Internet in China is becoming more and more free, because at the same time as the development of citizen journalists, the government finds ways of blocking or censoring content," Pain said.

Reporters Without Borders, which labels the Chinese government an "enemy of the Internet," says about 50 cyber dissidents are currently behind bars in China.

Reference Here>>

At least here in America, we have the First Amendment in our Constitution.

Even Senators John Kerry, Dick Durbin, and Diane Feinstein and their wishes to stop the "hyperbole" coming from a free and open media with a fairness doctrine ... will not be able to "purify" the American communications landscape.
(ht: The Museum of Broadcast Communications and Fox News)

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