All bloggers are liars, they cheat people using all kinds of methods. From my understanding, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.Tourism Minster Tunku Adnan sharing his informed opinion about bloggers at a media conference which coincidentally, was International Women's Day. (The original article appeared in Sin Chew Daily.)
The irony was not lost on bloggers (here and here).
Rehman Rashid, who I am very happy to see writing again, admitted himself a "luddite" who would rather write with a trusty old typewriter, or even pen and paper than a computer. Now here I can sympathise, as I find my ideas flow very much better when I scribble in my notebooks and the computer with all its can be a bloody distraction. (Work a bit, check comments on blog, check sitemeter, work a bit, answer e-mail, read other blogs, work a bit, check other e-mail, work a bit ...).
But my sympathy ends when he launches into an anti-blogging tirade:
In my opinion, what they’ve really done is prove why freedom of expression was a really bad idea. In this country, a host of folk who never had a hope of getting published are now proving why not.All nicely echoing the NST's stance. (Ministers can defame bloggers, newspapers can defame bloggers ... but it doesn't work the other way round, huh?)
The local blogosphere is the domain of life-challenged grumblestiltskins and disenfranchised pundits whose asinine maunderings only show why they should never have had day jobs in the first place.
Rumour, innuendo, half-truths and damned lies are their stock- in-trade, and previously sacrosanct standards, principles and ethics are now laughable.
Are they not entitled to their opinion? Of course they are, as much as everyone else is entitled to ignore them. I would venture, however, that everyone has an opinion and a rectum, and not that many seem capable of telling one from the other.
But no, it’s all good. Let a hundred thousand million flowers bloom; let all voices be heard, in however fractured language, whether or not they have anything pertinent to communicate or any information worth more than spittle to offer.
All this makes me feel very hurt and angry, for myself and for my friends in the blogosphere. (And there is an ever-growing sense of bloggers all being in this together no matter what our personal views on the NST vs Jeff and Rocky issue.)
Speaking for myself, I blog primarily:
- because I enjoy it
- because my fingers don't want to stop writing
- because of the friendships I make through it
- because it has brought a number of precious like-minded souls into my life
- because it allows me to explore issues (and this often leads to the articles I sell)
- because of the conversations it opens up
- because I want to create a resource for those interested in the local writing scene
- because I want to encourage writers
- because I want people to know how great reading is
- because I want to communicate a love for poetry
- because the newpapers (least of all the NST) do not cover the topics I want to read about (books and writing ... and much else)
- because there are issues which the mainstream media chose not to explore in any depth even though they are in the public interest (censorship, create a reading culture in Malaysia) and which I hope are read by those with the power to make changes
- because i'm a big-mouth
My posts here, no matter how rough and ready, have provided me with the material for newspaper and magazine articles for which the print media have paid. Indeed, many local bloggers are also journalists! (Often writing under a nom-de-blog.) It isn't an either or thing - people who love to write will put their words out in any way they can.
I actually much prefer blogging to writing for newspapers or magazines. The editorial control is entirely mine, and that's a heady feeling. There's no-one to change my words. I don't have a word limit, so I can say what needs to be said without having to discard useful material. (Even when my articles are published I often feel I have to supplement them on the blog with all the interesting bits I had to cut out!) There isn't a deadline to meet (although blog-news times out more quickly than print-news). And best of all, my readers turn up and tell me when I'm talking bullshit or something strikes a chord with them.
But being published in a newspaper or magazine always confers greater respectability: an editor has found your work worthy of being put before the public. That will continue to mean a great deal. (And I still get a rush of adrenalin when I see my work in print!)
There's a lot of junk in the blogosphere? Yes, it is a bit like the wild west, with everyone staking out their territory. The writing is extremely variable in quality, yet most of us cut through all that and find writing informs us, excites us, makes us laugh, makes us angry, makes us react. I'm always on the lookout for new writing talent (for the readings I organise) and am finding plenty of evidence of it online. Blogging also encourages a groundswell of writing which will undoubtedly result in a bigger pool of competent authors and journalists in the future.
And yes, we learn to take what we read with a pinch of salt, looking for the sources of information, reading the links. The newspapers have always given Malaysians plenty of practice in how to read behind the lines, through the lines, upside down between the lines, in a country when what is not stated in the newspapers (sacrosanct standards and all) is often more important than what is. And I daresay blog-readers are putting those critical reading skills to good use.
But the whole NST vs the blogosphere issue is one that makes me very unhappy because there should be symbiosis between bloggers and the media (as I think there is in the West) and not the out-and-out confrontation there is here at present. Part of the problem, I think, is that the bloggers have carved out greater freedom for themselves in a country where the press have never enjoyed much of it, and that's bound to create tension.
Anyway this is just my quick quack quack in the barnyard, slung up between my first and second cup of tea of the morning.
Feel free to ignore all this. I'm just a blogger. What do I know?