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Internet Manifesto

October 14, 2009

The Internet Manifesto is 17 points, or 17 declarations, on how journalism and the internet should interact. The article acts as a clarification for those who know the internet has affected the way we, as journalists, see the world, but are not quite sure how. It also seems to act as an oppurtunity for an egotist to flex his mental muscles and put down anyone who cannot distinguish a website from a tractor.

Rooted

Rooted

The article is interesting and effective. The points are laid out clearly and each gives further insight into how the internet has changed the media. Fundamental points are noted; “It is their [journalists] duty to develop the best possible form of journalism based on the available technology.” Agreed. Journalists have no right to turn their back on technology simply because it threatens the traditions in which they work. The manifesto also makes clear that boundaries no longer exists, however, later on introduces a fairly important boundary, the internet itself. It sounds obvious, but those without the internt, do not have the internet. It is by no means an inclusive medium.

I agree that the “freedom of the internet is invioable” and “blocking access to the internet endangers the free flow of information and corrupts our fundamental right to a self-determined level of information.” However, the internet is not as liberally fluid as this may suggest. Governments and corporations own, run and control large parts of the world-wide-web. Information is much more availble than it was a decade ago, but vested-interest involvement has also increased. It would be naive to view the internet as gospel.

It does indeed mean a new arena for political discourse and much greater potential for freedom of opinion, in the West, at least. I am cynical about the declariotion, ‘more is more’. This is not neccessarily true. More can be too much. The manifesto praises search engines, however, there is a lot of money in search engine optimisation. Some sites work on the basis that the most popular links appear the most, therefore facilitating a stale information cycle. The Manifesto broaches accountability in web histories and, surprisingly, lauds ‘generation Wikipedia’ for being able to monitor its own sources; something i have less faith in.

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The response to the Manifesto clarifies a lot of the points made in the Manifesto, only in a more pratical and sensitive manner. The main points come across without the author intellectually touching himself; multiple forms of media are important; learning new skills will never not be important; iniative and innovative thinking will have to become central to journalism; and pooh-pooh the internet at your own risk.

One of the points that seemed to come across in the response which i found quite gallant and rather pleasant was that, for real journalists, the concern is not making money, but in keeping jobs. The journalists should not want to be rich, but just to make sure their industry survives as a profressional craft. Journalists are trying to make sure their profession does not become exctinct. 18th century doctors faced this kind of problem from unlicensed quacks; they were able to just wait confidently until enough people had been killed that noone would trust a beardy bloke in the street with their surgery. Unfortunately, journalists do not have that luxury. The industry will have to adapt to survive.

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