Saturday, 10 January 2009

Time for an association of political bloggers??

. Irfan Ahmed picks-up on a story about police being given the power to remotely access computers without a warrant. Obviously this is a disturbing development and one that needs to be resisted so, I thought it was worth turning to a question posed by Evan Price. Evan asks;

"Does anyone else think that we, as political bloggers, should form an association, where the priority will be to use the membership fees to purchase insurance for members to cover the costs of legal fees in circumstances where we are sued for defamation?"

I certainly do feel the time has come for the formation of an organisation like that especially given the high-profile of bloggers like Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Sunny Hundal and Mike Smithson. All are recognised figures within the mainstream media and as such would command respect and authority as voices for political bloggers.

Such an organisation would also to my mind necessarily have a slightly wider remit than insurance; taking up non-party political campaigns around the freedom of the internet and representing political bloggers as a distinct interest group within that sphere. Also, it would form a bridge between the political blogsphere and the mainstream media and politics as a whole so it could, for example facilitate the resolution of the infamous 'lobby pass' issue.

As it should be a cross-party and cross-ideological divide it may actually in the long run also enhance the quality of the political blogsphere in general as it brings people together and would facilitate more debate. So, all-in-all I think this is a good suggestion that should get off the ground but whether that happens is of course, dependent on what the wider blogsphere thinks...

14 comments:

Irfan Ahmed said...

I did raise this issue with Guido and Iain a while ago and both apposed the idea!

Darrell G said...

Irfan,

That is interesting; on what grounds??

Irfan Ahmed said...

I said we need a sort of union/association and both said No, or forget about it!

Darrell G said...

So, not a sound reasoned argument then....I think the problem with the blogsphere is by it's very nature it is individualistic and this is why we encounter these problems....however, we have to realise that in some contexts we are not better off as individuals...

James said...

Isn't this effectively already ORG?

Darrell G said...

James,

Hmmm i am not sure really; I dont think so, ORG is an umbrella that this could live under but I think the point about specifically political bloggers is that they are in something of a vulnerable position...a political commentator or columnist in the MSM has the NUJ to fall back on and protect them but what do we have??

Oranjepan said...

I can perfectly understand why non-liberals would be more interested in promoting the interests of a closed circle of initiates.

Darrell G said...

Oranjepan,

I'm not sure if that was supportive or not lol...in general I think such an organisation would open up the blogsphere to maybe not so well known voices as the 'big five' and it would give an equality of protection if nothing else...

Like I also said in the main piece I also feel it might see things like the 'lobby pass' issue resolved because it might see things like distribution issues be able to be resolved....

Matt Wardman said...

>.in general I think such an organisation would open up the blogsphere to maybe not so well known voices as the 'big five' and it would give an equality of protection if nothing else...

I think that is a hed herring in this case. Imho any definition would need to be functional/mutually supportive, and trying to adopt an "arbitration" role or anything linked to opinions/editorial would be a mistake.

I don't see any need to restrict it to Political Bloggers. All bloggers may get legal threats.

The MBA is one model:
http://www.mediabloggers.org/

or potential a specialist section in a Union or Association. Not sure about the NUJ as they have been somewhat antideluvian around bloggers in the past, and they are politically affiliated (I think?).

A UK chapter of the EFF would be one alternative.

asquith said...

I'd be sceptical about such a union. Who would run it, & what criteria of inclusion & exclusion would they have? What would someone have to do to get kicked out? What sort of agenda would they advance politically? Would members have to subscribe?

Iain & Guido probably thought along those lines. They may be knobheads, but they've got a point here. Even if hard thinking, which no one seems to have put in, reaches a conclusion then I'll still be withholding my subs.

Sunny said...

Of course Guido would oppose it. He's been a significant source of libel threats across blogs himself.

It's not going to happen guys. The best thing to do is sign up to the NUJ, which has support for bloggers too now.

Oranjepan said...

Darrell,
if I was one of the insiders I can see that I'd be tempted to retain my advantage over my competitors rather than using their competition to increase the coverage.

But, I'm not (perhaps thankfully). ;)

While the names of our most prominent bloggers can roll of the tongue in one mouthful then I don't see much need for an association and the NUJ may well do the job sufficiently for now.

Charlotte Gore said...

Boo, what's going on? No blogging? No twitter updates? You okay?

Darrell G said...

You know the answer to that Charlotte because we have just talked on f/book...id just like to say thank you :)