Olympic mouth-gag

Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 20:31 | Posted in Bloggers' rights, Blogosphere, Freedom of speech, Journalism, Press freedom | 2 Comments
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The IOC has issued what they call Blogging guidelines for the Olympic games (pdf file here, via Barbara). It is a substantial set of very restrictive rules for blogging during the Olympics by Accredited Persons at the Games. It could be best described as a mouth-gag, albeit practically impossible to impose.

At the introduction of the 13 paragraph mouth-gag rules there is a sentence I strongly disagree with:

The IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these Guidelines, as a legitimate form of
personal expression and not as a form of journalism.

That may very well apply for some blogs and bloggers but certainly not all of them. A blog of a journalist, either free lance or affiliated, can include journalistic personal expression or even consist of nothing else but. In that case the blog in question is indeed a platform of journalistic activities.

Many of us, Yours Truly included, publish in our personal blogs some of the material that did not fit in a story published by a main stream media outlet. The content has thus been aqcuired as a journalist and it stays as a jornalistic statement regardless of the media where it appeared. In other words, whether or not blogging is to be regarded as journalism does not depend of the blog format per se but of the status of the blogger and the nature of the contents.

Alas, the restriction imposed to accrediated journalists by the IOC must be regarded as a pathetic attempt to violate the freedom of press. While the so called guidelines also apply to Olympic athletes and there are detailed restrictions about covering Olympic events above the personal experience, it must also be regarded as violating freedom of speech. No interviews or just references to statements of fellow athletes are allowed. There are also extensive limitations to images published and “moving images”, as they call it, are totally banned.

Clauses of commercial material are disputable. If interpreted strictly, the mouth-gag rules could be understood to ban Google Ads in a blog, just to mention one wierd example.

As I mentioned, these so called guidelines are practically impossible to impose, both legally and technically. Dispite the Great Firewall of China, critical contents is leaking out all the time.

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Still a lot of spitting

Friday, February 8, 2008 at 21:35 | Posted in China | Leave a comment
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The citizens of Beijing have improved their manners, Reuters reports. A study shows that the Chinese government’s campaign to make Beijingers behave bares fruit but not enough:

The 2007 results all pointed in the right direction: 2.5 percent of people spat in public, down from 4.9 percent in 2006; instances of queue jumping dropped to 1.5 percent from 6 percent; and littering fell to 2.9 percent from 5.3 percent.

These results do indeed reflect a trend towards better but baring in mind that the population of Beijing is, according to Wikipedia, 17,4 million, there is still quite a lot of bad behaving. 2,5 percent spitters amount to 435.750 spitting Beijingers. Although queue jumping appears to have decreased to a quarter of what it used to be, a tourist could still be passed by one or several of 261.000 queue jumpers. 504.600 litterers still make an awful mess.

Campaigning for decent manners is admirable and the results are impressive. That said, I wonder if bad manners could not be opposed more effectively by introducing democracy and promoting civil rights. All that spitting, queue jumping and littering could just be a sign of a hidden protest which people would not have to turn to if they had freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and uncensored Internet.

Just a thought. A silly thought, admitted.

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