I write this letter out of interest in what is being discussed these days about bloggers. There seems to be the general view that blogs or bloggers are part time journalists or want-to-be journalists. While it might be obvious why many people have this view, this certainly is not what a blog is. A blog by definition is in fact:
- a private webpage which is published by either an individual or a group of individuals.
- are commonly personal journals/diaries and are used to comment on all sorts of topics depending on the interests of the blogger (author).
- is usually updated frequently, maybe monthly, weekly or even daily, all depending on the blogger.
- Most blogs enable visitors to post comments and/or suggestions allowing interactivity between the blogger and visitors.
Short for 'Web Log' this term refers to a list of journal entries posted on a Web page. Anybody who knows how to create and publish a Web page can publish their own blog. Some Web hosts have made it even easier by creating an interface where users can simply type a text entry and hit 'Publish' to publish their blog.
Because of the simplicity of creating a blog, many people (often young kids and adults) have found a new presence on the Web. Instead of writing confidential entries in a book that no one is supposed to see, people now can share their personal feelings and experiences with thousands of people around the world. 'Blog' may also be used as a verb, as in 'Wow, Ali sure blogged a lot last week'.
What the above implies is that blogs are not by nature online newspapers and thus are not to be held to the same high standard of truth as newspapers are. Now I know many people are going to complain that the two blogs that are being sued are different and should be held to the same standard. But they are not. They are, in fact, a personal view by one person(s). In other words, they are they thoughts and opinion of a person's own mind - nothing more or less than that.
They pose their own thoughts on certain subjects and then allow other people to post their own thoughts on what the writer has said, no different then you sitting in your local coffee shop and telling your friend you do not like a certain actor because you think he is conceited (even though you have no actual proof of that) and your friend disagrees with you.
Yes, the Internet has a much larger audience and is in the public domain, but no person was ever forced to go to a website, no person was forced to read it and no person was told this is the truth - believe it. All blogs usually post that these are of opinions of the author only. Similar to writing letters to the editor of Malaysiakini or The News Straits Times or The Star. How is it any different?
No matter what your beliefs are, no matter what you think facts are facts and the fact here is that blogs are defined as a personal diary or journal (not to be confused with newspapers which are suppose to report news and the truth). Blogs have never stated their contents are the actual truth but only an opinion of one person(s) that may or may not agree with those of other people.
Look up the definition of blogs and bloggers and you will find hundreds of sites and dictionaries explaining the same as above. You can not simply rewrite a definition just because you do not agree with it. Even if a blogger claims they have conducted research and that their statements are based on actual reports, their content are still a personal journal and nothing really anymore than that.
Lastly, I would just like to say to your readers to do a little research yourself on the Internet and see how many mainstay newspapers around the world have actually taken a lawsuit against a writer or a person for defamation - you will find very few. What most respectable newspapers would do is to instead opt to write a rebuttal about what had been written about them.
Why does the NST not do the same? They have the space and the ability to write even a full-page column about what had been said about them.