Censorship, news and bloggers.

It is probably possible to tell from the Frequency of my posts lately that I have not been living up to my high blogging expectations and have cruelly neglected my rabid audience. Feel free to comment if you read that bit, because I write like no one’s reading. I suggest: ‘rarr rarr rarr’ *foam at the mouth*, or similar.

One of the things I have been doing is watching a whole bunch of news. I cannot do this in the UK without becoming very sad. The following reminded me why.

I saw an Al Jazeera article today about a lady journalist in Russia who started her own blog so that she could report on the things that really interested her without the censorship that she faced working for newspapers and mainstream media. I found this really inspiring as she continued to do her usual job and was willing to put herself in harm’s way, as she usually would for her job, to get the information she needed. She said that most of the time when she was censored it was because she had found something that pointed to corruption in government.

I also found this really interesting because I have read a few articles by mainstream journalists that focused on the differences between bloggers and Journalists (particularly in the travel sector). The conclusions drawn were very strange, I thought. They said that because some travel bloggers got paid by companies to go to places and review things that their opinions would be biased. I wish I got paid to go travelling. The reason this struck me a strange though, is because I’m not a complete airhead. I don’t believe that professional travel journalists go to places and review them out of the goodness of their own hearts for the viewer at home. I think they get paid.

An individual traveller often tells of situations where things go wrong. Illness, insurance trouble, crime and extortion are frequent themes. The only time you see crime on a travel show is if it is a show about ‘crime abroad’ and they have a team of people to make sure they can produce some bad guys. They can be hard to track down off-screen I’m sure, or the police would have done it?

Any ‘aspiring traveller’ watching a typical travel program is generally left with the idea that a holiday is automatically going to be idyllic. They worked hard and paid for it so I can see why that sells. The more realistic idea that travelling, even to wonderful place, is probably going to be a bit of an adventure at times (something might even be dirty, eek!), might not appeal to as broad a market. That said, perhaps if they have a support team and can gain the ability to edit the holiday afterwards it will be perfect.

The other, more relevant aspects of this counter argument are of course that although the Journalist themselves may not get direct incentives from hotels or tour operators, you can bet like a little red-head orphan girl that the companies that they work for do.

The wider issue is of course not just limited to travel. Each blogger has their own agenda and interests and they are hard to censor. More voices are better, and some blogs far and away eclipse the news on certain important topics. Many blogs that deal with sexism, feminism and rape fall into this category. I don’t want to think about why. It gets really depressing to consider the views expressed on those topics even in mainstream news.

See, if you can, the American edition of ‘stupid white men’ by Michael Moore. I have only read the UK version, so I know not of what I speak. The book states that in the UK there are laws governing the media which if I knew, I couldn’t pass on. I don’t even know if this is true because I can’t find anything about them. Logically then, I couldn’t be prosecuted for breaking a law I don’t know about and am prevented from knowing about?

In the UK Royalty seems to get its own pick of what is released about them, this can be gleaned from news articles about how ‘those pesky [French/American] [magazines/newspapers] did an article on [insert royal here] doing [insert debauchery/racism/war here]’ I don’t care about that though. Royalty is royalty, they are useless without power and we don’t elect them.

Finally I’m pretty sure that the UK government is just as willing to censor/dictate the news as America. Any BBC article on a subject close to America’s heart will hint at that if you look. Pretty sure it even censors search engines; see the recent ‘rape porn’ debate (I signed a petition for that; David Cameron totally missed the point).

You don’t even need to ‘think’ to know if you’re not being shown the truth. If you watch the news and you finish up depressed or with a headache at the end, rather than informed and engaged it’s because some part of you knows a mistruth. There are studies available that show a countries level of happiness is affected by the freedom of the media. More free = more happy. The UK is one of the most depressed and unhappy places in the world. See happiness studies about countries. By the way, far from being a terrorist news station as *cough* some stations say, Al Jazeera is where the cool BBC types of bygone days hang out now.

In summary, a wider variety of sources will allow you to hear more sides of the same story and blogs can be as much a part of that as anything. At the end of the day no person can ever really be unbiased whether an individual or professional. Free thinking is considering who, what, where, when and why someone has said something. Sometimes how. Only then can you form your own opinion.

Note: failing to consider the facts does not rule out all opinion, it just causes your opinion to differ in no way from the thing you just watched/read. This may cause full or partial idiocy. This may be rectified by exposure to further knowledge. If symptoms persist rinse the affected area with lukewarm water and consult a medical professional.

I’m sorry for not giving many sources for my information, but if you’re reading this then you knows how to work the internet so you’re clever enough to look for yourself.

Don’t believe me that America dictates its own news? Here is a Hillary Clinton.

It’s a bit old, but fun stuff, the original Hillary speech was much more interesting than this recap.

This is the programme about the lady blogger, I see now that there were two bloggers in this, male and female but that I only caught the latter half.
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2013/02/2013225104757450565.html

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