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Bloggers Are Not Journalists – But They Are Abducted, Imprisoned Tortured and Assassinated the Same #HowManyMore


Extract: George Brandis today said that “Bloggers are not Journalists” meaning they don’t need the same protection. It’s probably worth investigating the number of bloggers killed in the “Line of Duty”…

Today, George Brandis Attorney General for Australia stated that “bloggers are not journalists” in regard to the #metadata debate (Government accessing Big Data vs Privacy debate).

Bloggers therefore don’t have the same rights to protection of data, protection of sources and one assumes – as that’s where it does lead – to protection of life itself.

If you remember that our Prime Minister considers all social media as “electronic graffiti” you can see why the Department of Digital Economy focusses less on bringing Australia into the global collaborative economy and more on spying on citizens and Google Adwords taxes. But back to the key point: do bloggers need protection even from their own government?  

And while the Committee to Protect Journalists does an outstanding job of protecting journalists from abduction, imprisonment and assassination as well as free speech for all, how can they protect the bloggers when even the Australian Government doesn’t respect bloggers?

Brandis Declares War on The Australian Public… …and on Whistleblowers

Social Media is THE voice of the Australian people, the Australian voters. Social Media is NOT electronic graffiti, or really anything other than people talking about what concerns them. Bloggers speak for their community, Facebook updates herald shifts in opinions,  twitter tweets represent the Will of the People. Only politicians don’t like the Will of the People, in fact, can’t abide it (we’re not very polite). 

Now in some senses I agree with Brandis on his statement:

“The target are criminals, paedophiles and terrorists. Journalists are not the object of the law,” Brandis said.

I think that’s correct – Journalists are not the object of the law. It’s actually Social Media. Social Media is the object of the law, bloggers are the object of the law. Or at least the Julian Assange/Wikileaks version of blogging/social media is the object of the law. Brandis parrotting the USA on Assange is pretty telling of how much of a criminal, sexual predator and terrorist he believes Assange to be (read: Sky News amongst others). You can’t shut up dissenters if the law doesn’t back you up. Time to change a few laws. Note: I am NOT saying the Press don’t need to be protected – Australia currently rank 28th between Ghana and Suriname for our press “freedoms” and we’re heading DOWN the list.  I just think trashing bloggers as armchair critics diminishes the lives given by bloggers that could’ve/should’ve been protected. And we may need those bloggers in the future. Read on…

Do Bloggers Need Protection?

Let’s look at a basic premise about bloggers – that they are armchair critics and keyboard warriors (said sneeringly) – and no need to protect their metadata. No need to protect them at all (freedoms, voice, data, metadata, life) as they are bloggers, not journalists? A few weeks ago, Dr Avijit Roy, an atheist American blogger was attending a book fair in Dhaka. He was attacked and killed in front of his wife by machete wielding thugs while the Police looked on. blogger killed roy avijit

Blogger Killed Over Religion “Avijit’s killing follows a string of attacks on secular bloggers in recent years in the Muslim-majority nation. Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.” The Guardian Bloggers are not Journalists.

Would that have happened – not the attack, but Police standing by – to a journalist with a Press badge and the protection of a Heritage media masthead? Probably not…

In Greece,  Sokratis Giolias was blogging on corruption. Shot in front of his pregnant wife. Bloggers are not Journalists.

In Mexico an administrative assistant for a media company used Twitter and her blog to investigate drug cartels. Marisol Macías Castañeda under the pseudonym of NenaDLaredo blogged extensively and revealingly, until she was decapitated and her head placed on a well known statue monument in the city. Pseudonymity didn’t protect her. Bloggers are not Journalists.

Also, an anti-cartel blogger who wrote under pseudonym Rascatripas (“Belly Scratcher”) was found beheaded with a note: This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks. Bloggers are not Journalists.

The challenge going forward is that bloggers are seen as terrorists, dissidents and activists. They are “embedded” in the culture – unlike a  journalist they can’t be evicted or brought home by the parent company.

But Australia Doesn’t Need These Protections… right?

But Australia isn’t China right? Or Iran, or Mexico or Brazil or Vietnam or Mauritania or Dhaka or … right? Well let me leave you with a few thoughts: The challenge with metadata, privacy and freedom of information is that the mechanism of Government is itself shrouded in secrecy.

“How can you pass a law on freedom of information, without releasing any information about it?” Usamah Mohamed, a Sudanese blogger, told the Committee to Protect Journalists. He added: “They made it very clear that a lot of information is going to remain classified. They have codified this law so they can go after the press if they cross the line.” (Last month)

Bloggers don’t need to worry their pretty little heads about metadata, right? Applies to Australia too!

Because, you know,  this Government has a history of gagging Australians. Who can forget this debacle – the Office of the Prime Minister forcing staff to dob in other staff that use social media, even anonymously. (Canberra times, social media government). Oopsie, I forgot, the Government Public Service social media policy for staff is now SECRET. By the way, in America it’s illegal to stop a staff member criticising their employer on social media, here it’s big trouble if you don’t dob in a mate doing exactly that!

Don’t even mention the TPP. … Oops, now I’m on a list and being tracked. Metadata will reveal all  – you don’t need all my data to tell that I visit certain offices and Universities each week.

Wikileaks has been banned/blocked in Australia a few times. It is also illegal to simply link/tweet/Facebook to a Wikileaks article on certain issues (Big Business corruption not real national security stuff). Notice that NO-ONE is linking to that article (I had to go to Wikileaks and then down to July 2014 to read it for myself) not even me! If our data is being used to track us for discussing issues before Government WHEN should we think about metadata laws?If linking to whistleblowers is already illegal WHEN do you think we should start protecting freedoms?  Pfft. It’s already too late.  

IMAGE: screenshot of part of the data collected by Committee for Protection of Journalists. 

This Article is Dedicated to the Journalists AND Bloggers that appear on this list. Bloggers are not Journalists.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

2 thoughts on “Bloggers Are Not Journalists – But They Are Abducted, Imprisoned Tortured and Assassinated the Same #HowManyMore

  1. The Supreme Court of Canada in Grant vs Torstar ruled that with respect to the laws of defamation of character; slander and libel, bloggers should be treated no differently than journalist. Essentially, it means that the important distinction is not whether a person is a journalist or a blogger but whether they are “doing journalism”.

    A few clauses read:

    [96] A second preliminary question is what the new defence should be called. In arguments before us, the defence was referred to as the responsible journalism test. This has the value of capturing the essence of the defence in succinct style. However, the traditional media are rapidly being complemented by new ways of communicating on matters of public interest, many of them online, which do not involve journalists. These new disseminators of news and information should, absent good reasons for exclusion, be subject to the same laws as established media outlets. I agree with Lord Hoffmann that the new defence is “available to anyone who publishes material of public interest in any medium”: Jameel, at para. 54.

    [97] A review of recent defamation case law suggests that many actions now concern blog postings and other online media which are potentially both more ephemeral and more ubiquitous than traditional print media. While established journalistic standards provide a useful guide by which to evaluate the conduct of journalists and non-journalists alike, the applicable standards will necessarily evolve to keep pace with the norms of new communications media. For this reason, it is more accurate to refer to the new defence as responsible communication on matters of public interest.

    http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/7837/index.do

    1. Interesting. I think bloggers will be “journalists” when it makes them liable for what they write but “not journalists” when it suits the Government… thanks for this!

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