The Bloggers United Meeting (B.U.M. 2007) was held last Saturday. It was described as:
"a social and networking event with a preliminary brainstorming session between the 4th & 5th estates to embrace and engage the blogging phenomenon in Malaysia... An event in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May." (B.U.M. 2007)
There is a full list of other related posts here: so I don't have to collate them myself Thanks to whoever did that!
It was a very interesting event, with informative talks by a variety of experienced bloggers and journalists who shared their experiences in relaxed atmosphere. A big thanks to the organisers!
One of the questions that came to me was - what defines a 'blogger'? For example, Rocky Bru gave an update on the National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs) and said that "all bloggers" can become members, so I wondered - does that mean I can open a blog today and become a member tomorrow? Or do I have to have had a blog for certain time? Do I need to have to have regular postings too?
It seems to me that an important aspect of the public debate surrounding blogs at the moment (with the MSM and the (Malaysian) Information Minister criticising blogs as unreliable) also relates to a definitional issue - what defines a 'journalist'? Does s/he have to work for, or be published in, a recognised news organisation? Or is it the published material itself that defines the journalist?
When an article is published in a newspaper, we can be reassured that it has gone through at least one level of checking - so we tend to trust articles written in newspapers to the extent that we trust the institution of the newspaper itself (or TV News, or whatever). Anyone can write whatever they want in a blog, it's true, but Marina Mahathir made a very pertinent point when she said that comments "balance out bias": this works to a large extent in blogs, if someone writes something completely inane, there is likely to be someone who will come along and criticise it.
On the other hand the blogger can delete/deny any comments they want. In addition, I think that people tend to cluster around blogs that reflect their own opinion: so anyone who is attracted to a blog because of its content, will tend to find themselves in the company of like-minded people, thus reinforcing whatever opinions they have.
[Some more anthropological/methodological points in the extended post... click below]