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Law & Rights: Free Access

April 24, 2010

Like the right to education, access to journalism should also be considered a right in any democratic society. Because of this, free news access is the first-best scenario for our societies. Nevertheless, free access by itself is not sustainable, so the challenge is how to devise a model that guaranties universal access to financially viable news.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 19   “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers



Media: Are Newspapers History?

April 19, 2010

Ok, ok, I know… its cheesy, but admit it nearly makes you cry

News: An Unlikely Supporter

April 19, 2010

The Guardian titles “Gordon Brown attacks Murdoch paywalls for online content”

Hey, even Mr. Gordon Brown agrees!

Sadly, Mr Brown makes a terrible argument: “People have got used to getting content without having to pay”

Media: The iPad and journalism on MediaWatch

April 8, 2010

MediaWatch reported on the iPad and its possible impact on the future of journalism.

(Click to watch)

To us, the key moment of the report comes when Frédéric Filloux raises the issues of democracy inherent to all payment schemes (regardless of whether they involve iPads or not).

Around 8:30 minutes into the video:

Frederic Filloux: If you take a 25 years old person right now he or she won’t want to pay for news whatsoever. I mean the idea of having to pay for news for a young person is just stupid. But on the other hand if you take the more senior audience which is going to be more affluent, more older and more educated, this segment of audience will be willing to pay. Unfortunately it will represent a niche market versus the previous bulk market it was 20 years ago… the best informed people will be elderly, affluent, educated people. That’s it.”

Jonathan Holmes: So basically, a sort of class-based news system, is that what you’re saying?”

Frederic Filloux: A total class-based system, yes.

“MediaWatch: Well, you could argue that there’s nothing new in that. Quality news, investigative journalism and the like, has always been aimed at an educated elite. Its future, many hope and believe, lies not in traditional websites, but in applications specially designed for products like the tablet computer.”

You could argue that there’s nothing new in that? Really? The problem with arguing that is that it implies that basing democracy in class is ok. That it is ok to have a democracy is really a facade for class based systems. Why would you argue that?

Also, Check Frédéric Filloux’s site Monday note:

KJF News: Manifesto Updated

March 4, 2010

We’ve made a change to the manifesto. The first point now is:

1. The right to be informed is as critical as the right to education. Universal access to journalism is a condition for true democracy

My media writing professor, Dr Carolyne Lee, remarked that the ideas presented in the manifesto were reminiscent of Austrian economist’s Joseph Schumpeter about the relationship between journalism and education. To be honest, I haven’t been able to find the proper Schumpeter reference, but Carolyne’s comment helped me articulate the idea that we have a right to be informed. This is why we made this change to the manifesto to make it (in my opinion) more robust.

Media: Burma Vj and the reasons to report

March 3, 2010

I just saw an incredible documentary called Burma VJ. It tells the story of a network of clandestine journalists that reported on the recent uprisings against the military regime in Burma. The totalitarian regime can only be contested by a civil society that is too scared to even talk to each other, and by an international community that is largely unaware, uninterested, and unable to take any action. And by 400.000 Buddhist monks. All images of the abuses of power are priceless: they represent a hope that because it was recorded and made public, it will never have to be recorded again. We realize how the essence of journalism lies within the promise of publication. Articles and videos and pictures are produced only because they are going to be made public, which literally means that they will become property of the public.

In Burma VJ we see how all agents of the regime are instructed to obsessively persecute anyone who has a camera. In a country without witnesses power can be total, and History becomes a blank sheet for the regime to write. Apart from the social concerns raised, it is also inevitable to think about the essence of journalism. The act of shooting video puts their lives at risk (some are serving life sentences), but they stubbornly do it aware of the power of journalism in a time of global media. From the point of view of the reporter, would it make any sense to charge for this images? This life-risking activity is not conducted as a result of economic calculations, but out of desperate need to denounce.

Seeing Burma VJ makes self evident that a journalist is someone who is willing to get in trouble for the public interest, to put it mildly. To put into perspective the conversation about the future of journalism we need to compare the figure of Burma VJs who risk their lives to produce and divulgate the story of their people, with the figure of the power addicted media mogul that shamelessly whines about diminishing returns. There is just no sense of proportion between the two characters; the idea that they are both journalistic is just too hard to swallow. The mogul ends up resembling the totalitarian dictator that Burma journalists fight: a powerful figure that seeks to control and limit the spread of information.

Brand New Blog

February 19, 2010

Not much to say in this one other than FIRST POST!

All of our best energy and dedication is going into the project now. A couple of game-changing meetings coming up next week, so wish us luck.

Hopefully, we will be able to update the blog really often after that; there’s tons of info and links we’ve gathered in the past few months, and since we were kids.

Again, wish us luck. I know I do.