Saturday, 13 November 2010

Commenting on Commentary

I'm sitting on the bus to the Political Innovation Camp in Edinburgh, and while I rarely blog in 'real time' I thought it'd be worth drafting some thoughts about citizen journalism and political commentary. I already introduced some ideas in a couple of posts below, but some interesting things have happened in these spheres in the past week that give some food for thought.

The first was Keith Olbermann's very temporary 'indefinite' suspension from MSNBC and his show Countdown over some undisclosed political donations. The donations are neither here nor there, but it was an interesting turn of events for a few reasons. First, the rally of support for Keith that manifested so rapidly over, of course, the Internet. Second, MSNBC's ability to spin the incident as demonstrable proof that the cable network is somehow more responsible and less overtly partisan or activist than Fox news. Third was Meghan McCain (daughter of Arizona Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain) defending Olbermann on account of his being a commentator, and not a journalist.

There are blurry distinctions between journalism and commentary, between bona fide media formats and citizen journalism/commentary. As I asserted before there are nuances in the codes and grammar of each, and also in the expectation the reader or viewer garners from each medium. There are some rules that all must adhere to, such as regarding libel, copyright, plagiarism, confidentiality, etc. But it'll be interesting to have discussions about how commentary and blogging is currently perceived and how it can be used.

The other events concern twitter tags such as #twitterjoketrial and #iamspartacus. Over on this side of the ocean we've seen instances of social media 'commentary' (jokes and flippant comments) becoming issues of a legal matter, but more so, issues of action. I'm sure plenty of media fans and politicos are watching these two Twitter tags with many levels of interest, as they add a different, slightly more alarming, facet to this conversation on commentary, blogging and connectivity.

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