Monday, September 20

Are bloggers journalists?

Orhan Gunduz, is the President of Azerbaijan Internet Forum. After attending Blogosphere 2010 in Nabran (Azerbaijan) in mid September, here is what Gunduz has to say about bloggers and in particular, what they need to do to be regarded as journalists in his interview to one of the local media outlets. 

The text below is courtesy of Ali Novruzov
First of all, bloggers engaged in media sphere are automatically engaged in journalist. That is, their activities are about journalism. But Azerbaijani legislature has already defined who is a journalist and according to that clause, [a blogger] is not considered a journalist despite engaging in journalist activities. Something like engaging in business activities but illegal business activities- it is approximately similar approach. Bloggers engaged in media sphere are not considered journalists according to Azerbaijani laws, because they have to be newspaper or any media outlet affiliated. Therefore, we have prepared recommendations on how to obtain journalist status for those bloggers who report news in the media sphere. It is based on voluntary mechanism. That is, if a blogger wants to be regarded a journalist, he should abide by some requirements. He or she should post his/ her name, address, and telephone number on their blog to show who is responsible for the writing. And since mass media as part of the general requirement must register with the Ministry of Justice (voluntarily), so, the bloggers, should do the same. It is only after registration is complete and approved that the blogger could obtain journalist status (according to Azerbaijan mass media legislature). 
Ali, then published a response to Gunduz's statement from Mr. Miklos Haraszti, human rights and media activist, who previously also been OSCE Media Watchdog. So below is the response:
Dear Ali: here is my reply to Mr Gunduz' line of logic. You can post my letter of course.

His logic is attempting to put the genie of modern time back into the bottle of the old order.

He forgets that to be a journalist has two meanings in the modern world. Mr Gunduz is speaking about the old, bureaucratic and unionist -- profsoyuznik -- definition: journalists are those who are registered, and are having a job in one of the media outlets, etc.

But there is another, functional (if you wish, social) meaning of being a journalist. In this social, or functional sense, journalists are those who convey socially relevant information to the public.

In the old days, the two meanings were the same -- only those could be journalists who worked as listed, registered, and paid employees. Through their jobs, they could be journalists also in the second, social or functional sense.

But today, the situation has changed radically. Today, regardless of age, profession, education, or location, absolutely any and every person can be a journalist in the functional, social sense. If you decide to post my letter in your blog, you made Miklos Haraszti a media author with one push of a button, and at the same time you made Ali S Novruzov a journalist. But we both can decide to do something else in the next minute, or even during our joint "publishing" activity. And afterwards we can go back again to be a journalist -- in the social sense --, this time in a totally different digital network.

Mr Gunduz does not want to acknowledge the modern separation of the functional journalist from the bureaucratic journalist. He is not ready to see the impact that digital technologies are making -- like computers, smartphones, and total interconnectivity. The old utopia of Karl Marx today is a reality. Every hunter or fisherman can be tomorrow -- or even while hunting or fishing -- a literary critic...

A blogger is a citizen who decided to engage in journalism in the social sense, but not in the bureaucratic. He or she wants to have a lively conversation with fellow citizens online, without becoming a journalist in the old profsoyuznik sense. Mr Gunduz should honor the decision of the citizens, and not restrict the enjoyment of the capacities provided by our modern, open societies. Unless he is is busy to make our societies pre-modern and closed -- which I am sure is not the case. I hope he will re-evaluate his stance.

By the way, and to be sure, the Council of Europe and OSCE standards hold registration of online outlets as a repressive policy, directed against freedom of speech.

With my friendly regards both to you and to Mr Gunduz

Miklos Haraszti
It couldn't be said better.


Anonymous said...

Arzu, Totally agree with OSCE. Actually I have told to Osman Gunduz, that his opinion is not right and could not be implemented in any country including Azerbaijan. Especially making people to register their blogs will have 1 big result: there will be blogs which is 'legal', and the rest 'illegal'. So for getting some flats and small grants for a bunch of 'legal' bloggers, the rest - thousands of bloggers will face problems.
On Blogosfer in Nabran and lately I have told this opinion to him and tens of active bloggers in different meetings. Unfortunately he is still taking registration issue to more places.

Emin Huseynzade

Anonymous said...

Ali Novruzov is an outstanding writer, sharp thinker, and a strong voice. He points out faulty logic and repressive policies without joing those who rejoice at Azerbaijan's misery. I'm proud that he stays with us and continues his work. Thank you for sharing his work and I will keep sharing too.