It kicked off with a vid of Andrew Marr's notorious ad hominem generic attack on bloggers. We were informed, tantalisingly, that he had personal and private reasons for his remark. It became clear that journalists are worried about the impact of the interweb on their sales. My feeling is that we still need primary news collection from journalists, but that they can stuff their comment; we can comment as well as if not better than them. I raised the matter of the blatant failure of UK newspapers (apart from the Guardian, Indie, and Channel 4) to cover the Coulson scandal. There was a fair amount of criticism of the PCC, who had sent a representative.
I have never previously considered the matter of a quality "Kite Mark" for blogging. Like most bloggers, I blog as a means of self-expression, as a way of communicating ideas without going through the media - the middle man.
As a result of the discussion, I am now sold on the idea of having a quality mark on blogs that wish to do so, and also, to my surprise, of taking out some kind of bloggers' associate membership with the NUJ.
The quality mark would be modelled on the NUJ Code of Conduct, a set of standards. Emphatically, it will be voluntary. Bloggers are mainly an anarchistic bunch, and rightly so, and many will reject the idea. That's fine. They can carry on as before. But those of us who are attracted to the idea can freely choose to subscribe.
As for the NUJ, the advantages will be:
- training and technical asistance
- legal advice in the case of libel actions
- solidarity in the case of political oppression in the future
- advice on copyright infringement and copy theft
So there we have it, in a nutshell. I'm on board, depending on what kind of deal the NUJ actually comes up with. If I do join, I will be pushing for the NUJ to press for an amnesty of all journalists who have been engaging in mobile phone hacks, since this is the best way of breaking the silence over Coulson. We have 13 anonymous witnesses who testify that Coulson knew about the hacks. They stay anonymous because they fear legal action and career destruction if they actually come out. A legal amnesty would mitigate this problem.
The event was stimulating in that it is always a pleasure to meet correspondents in meatspace. The excellent Sunny Hundal was there, and Roy Greenslade was there on Friday, along with many other influential bloggers.
Here is a video stream of the Friday event.
Here is Sunny Hundal on the blogger ghetto. (vid)
This is Marc Cooper's blog on the event.
Should we create a bloggers union?On Daily Blog Tips
Here is the twittersetream from the seminar.