16 October 2007

Media bloggers anticipate journalist's arrest

"Bloggers react to news of Makhanya arrest" reads one blog subject line.

So when did the arrest take place?

Read on:
SOUTH Africa’s small but active blogging community has risen to the challenge of reporting on and commenting on the impending arrest of Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya and journalist Jocelyn Maker.

But hang on, what's that little word "impending"? These bloggers are not "reacting to" an event that has already taken place, they are rather anticipating something that hasn't happened yet.

Most of the bloggers who are doing this are journalists, and journalists have a vested interest in freedom of the press. Though blogs are not the press, even when the bloggers are journalists, headlines like that are a bit much. It goes beyond spin. Spin is interpreting events in a particular way, but headlines like that are simply manufacturing events. Since blogs are vehicles of opinion, one expects to find spin in blogs. I could probably find lots of examples from my own blogs.

But in this case, where the government is said to be attacking press freedom by denouncing the press as irresponsible, it seems to be counterproductive when journalists write irresponsibly, even in their blogs. That makes it look as though (the) government has a point when it says the media are irresponsible.

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