Boing Boing is one of the most enjoyable blogs around. It combines silly shit with genuinely interesting shit in a format that people like me have loved for years. From time to time, editors of Boing Boing, respected as they are as media experts, get a chance to comment on current affairs on newspaper websites like that of The Guardian. This is cool because new media arseholes like myself yearn for old media recognition. Well, I don’t. But the rest of them do.
So Cory Doctorow, the dude from Boing Boing, gets to write a column from time to time for The Guardian. Which is something I’d love to do (except for the rooting around in my private life, the tall poppy syndrome mentality and the likelihood of my words being twisted by some scumbag on a personal blog: kudos for avoiding comments on your column, Cory: that’s the best way to stop dissent).
In his column, Doctorow celebrates the downfall of the News of the World because of its revolting tactics [it’s the paper’s attitude which was even more revolting as far as I’m concerned], but warns that such a case ought not be used to “rein in the press”.
Doctorow, full of the fear of fascism, agonises:
For me, the phrase “the press is too powerful” is as chilling as “these elections are too time-consuming” or “this secret ballot is just a farce” or “due process is too expensive; we know who’s guilty and who isn’t.” It is a contradiction in terms: for while it’s possible for a particular company or cartel to be too powerful, the idea that the institution of the press is too powerful is Orwellian. If a media company grows too powerful, that generally means the press is not powerful enough: an all-eclipsing media empire blots out press freedom by monopolising distribution channels, distorting discourse and allying itself with this party or that in exchange for favours and (of course) more power. A powerful press is one built on vigorous, pluralistic debate, one that allows new voices to emerge and new points of view to be heard. The more diverse the press is, the more powerful it becomes.
Sadly, this is his response to suggestions that the press (that old dog we can’t quite bring ourselves to shoot) ought not regulate itself, but that someone else should take a look at the whole mess and… sort shit out.
When I say “the press is too powerful”, I do not mean, “there ought to be a commission what decides on what, how and why a newspaper reports a story”. No, I mean to say: “the press, outside of its service of information to the people, and reporting important news and suchlike, ought not exert such power over Government that said Government is rendered entirely at the mercy of a foreign man hellbent on a personal crusade whose ideology is exactly that by which he became the most powerful media magnate in our history”.
I hope the entire empire comes tumbling down.
Incidentally, England already has very attractive and lucrative libel laws. So Doctorow clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.