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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, June 30, 2005

No more blogs

Mr. Met is no longer a mascot, but a Team PR
spokesman and performance artist.

Kos and Atrios are mocking the idea that blogs are not protected, but "online magazines" are.

Carol Darr, our netiquette violating friend testified before the FEC today, as did Kos and Atrios.

This is what she said:

At its essence, [the media exemption] allows a media corporation, through certain of its employees -- reporters, editorial writers, and cartoonists -- to spend an unlimited amount of corporate money communicating with candidates, asking them anything about their campaigns, with no question relating to money or strategy off limits, activities, in short, that would be considered "coordination" if the person doing the asking were not considered media.

This exemption is so broad that, aside from the various journalists' codes of ethics, there is absolutely nothing to stop the reporters from becoming partisan advocates of a candidate - what reporters derisively call "getting in the tank" with the candidate.

The media exemption, however, allows them this leeway, because to do otherwise would interfere with their rights as journalists. And all members of the press are entitled to this exemption: the good, the bad, the hacks, the partisans, and the crazies. Everyone from The New York Times to the National Inquirer to the independent journalist working in his basement distributing his work around the neighborhood on a mimeographed sheet is protected by the media exemption.

This broad treatment is in keeping with the legislative history, and is consistent with the FEC's previous advisory opinions. Given these precedents, I expect that the members of the Commission will grant the exemption widely to bloggers, or you will send it back to Congress and they will specifically include bloggers.

But this broadly granted media exception contains within it an absolutely unavoidable consequence. And that is, there is no way to keep big money out of this picture.

My concern is not with the average citizen who chooses to publish a blog and share his or her viewpoints on the Internet, but with large corporations and unions who seek to unfairly influence campaigns by spending huge amounts of money under the guise of being a blog [...]

That is what I fear about the widely granted media exemption. Not that the old media will lose it power. They can take care of themselves. What I fear is that our fragile, very flawed system of campaign finance regulation will completely destroyed

Darr, like a lot of people, have confused the tool for the person.

No matter what you call it, online publishing is here to stay.

Website, message board, blog, they're all just tools to communcate, content management systems.

When Darr talks about the privledges of journalists, she misses the point. A blog is what its owner is. If they are journalists, and that's what goes into the blog, then it's journalism. There is no special catagory of writer called a "blogger". They are a blogger in the way that a cameraman is a cameraman, defined by their tool. However, the cameraman for CNN is a journalist, and the cameraman shooting a Tarantino film is an artist. Same basic tool, different job.

As long as people like Darr try to define blogging by the use of a tool, they will miss the point.

posted by Steve @ 2:27:00 AM

2:27:00 AM

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