Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are bloggers journalists?

The Lithuanian parliament recently refused accreditation to Mr Liutauras Ulevicius who writes a blog about Lithuanian politics. Without accreditation, Mr Ulevicius won't be able to attend press conferences or be able to cover parliament's business.

The Parliament says that bloggers don't meet the legal definition of journalists. Mr Ulevicius plans to contest this ruling in court since he believes his right to free expression has been curtailed.

This is just one instance by which the law has failed to catch up with the information revolution. Blogs may beat the presses for the news. Blogs may give balanced and timely news and commentary.

And anyone can be a blogger. One need not go to journalism school. And this is probably why the Lithuanian parliament won't accredit bloggers. Lithuania's Media Law says

"The Media Law describes a journalist as a person who collects, disseminates and provides information to the media, based on a contract with the media, or who is a member of a journalists' union."

So in Parliament's view, journalists are media professionals and bloggers aren't. But of course, parliament will have to amend or modify the law to suit the changing times. The line between "professional" journalism and blogging has faded. Journalists now blog and bloggers do journalism.

Mr Ulevicius' suit may be a test case in European Union law. Lithuania has just recently become a member of the EU. Perhaps the EU may come up with a law that defines who bloggers are.

In the Philippines, I haven't have heard of a survey done that measures the impact of bloggers and blogging on the nation. I know that some overseas Pinoys read blogs to get a more balanced view. Have blogs really made an impact to the extent that government policy is taken into notice and that government becomes more accountable? This answer to this question is more important than knowing who got nominated or won the latest blog awards.

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