"Readers must not believe that everything is gospel truth in the blogs. It may make an interesting reading on some sensational stories that you find in the social sphere but let us not allow our emotions cloud our judgement... To separate truth from spins and half truths, Malaysians should read, decipher and analyse from every source - from the print media to radio, television, and bloggers - to make an educated and informed conclusion." - MCA President Chua Soi Lek.
I must agree with him. Some blogs are deceiving, some produce half truth stories and many become popular for the lies and slanders.
However, some are really good and quality news material. Whether its politics, economy, sosial, world affairs, sports and others, some blogs provide a better insight on certain issues. The writers, normally journalists and professionals like lawyers, doctors and politicians, do not simply sell their soul to the devil over what they write.
But blogging is not journalism although some of the postings are being subscribed by the mainstream media, especially newspapers. I have noticed some good blog postings gained front-page headlines for its precision.
Blogs are personal domain. The owners are free to pen their thoughts and perception as to how and when they wish. And they are the ones responsible for what they write. If it contains elements of defamation and lies, the subject of the posting can sue them for libel. As to date, no laws protect such bloggers.
Just like newspapers, blogs too have niche readership. Those who are fond of sociopolitical issue will read sociopolitical blogs. Those who look for leisure will go for leisure blogs and for those who like reading 'colorful and abusive' blogs, there are many around. And certainly the ones with vulgarity, slanderous and immodest words will gain popularity fast. The hits are theirs.
Yes, some blogs are very invigorating in the sense that readers would make full assessment of the facts and figures. Readers can learn from it; even the mainstream media sometimes fail to reach out to special issues and hence have to depend on blogs feed.
The only thing that separates blogs and the print and electronic media is timing. While blogs provide readers with the latest information at high speed, television and radio will only carry it during news airtime and special segments. Worse is newspapers - it appears the next day or many hours later when people are already talking about it.
And what Chua said is true. Readers must be able to distinguish the truth and 'news sense' by not only referring to blogs. They must also turn to newspapers and the electronic media as this will avoid them from making their own judgement over specific issues.
So, there must be some collaborations between selective bloggers and the mainstream media to enable both sides gain benefit from the 'open news dissemination'. I wonder what has the Press Council set up last year involving the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, the Home Ministry and representative of the media - formulated thus far!
In some countries like the US, South Korea, Japan and even Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and South Africa, the government pools senior journalists and selected bloggers into a special task force to help the Cabinet in news monitoring and info gathering.
As blogs get more readers' attention, there is a potential for both sides - blog writers and mainstream media - to work together in many aspects of news 'reporting'. And I personally don't think most reporters attached with the leading newspapers today can produce good 'scoops' as some bloggers do...