Rocky of Rocky Bru says journalists should blog. Technically there is nothing stopping journalists from blogging. This is a medium of self-expression and it is really up to an individual to say what he wants to say and also face the reaction to what he says.
However I do have some conflicting thoughts about this.
Firstly, journalists write for a publication. When they are employed, they usually have to declare that they are writing for only the employer and no one else. Of course, initially this was because employers don’t want you to moonlight for a rival publisher or something like that. However, blogs are often personal opinions on all things under the sun. Furthermore, people write blogs not for commercial gain. Now how is that covered in the current scheme of things?
Secondly, when working journalists start blogging on stories they are covering/have covered, this whole issue of scoop arises too. Say you worked on a story. You feel strongly about it and wrote a fine piece that alas was spiked due to reasons like these:
a) Bad press for an advertiser.
b) Your editor feels it is not strong enough to play up.
c) The story is of the buka pekung variety that will result in a lot of political flak for the publication.
d) The story is of the type to get the newspaper/magazine shut down under the Printing Presses and Publications Act, people arrested under the Internal Security Act, Seditions Act or the Official Secrets Act.
So, can you talk/bitch/moan/rant about it in your blog? The average journalist in Malaysia would cease to be that, if he does it. So that’s it. Buang Kerja! So of course the local journalists will not do it. Idealism is fine but one has to eat too.
The reality is, the few ethical journalists in the country committed to the integrity of the profession will not remain journalists for long if they did this and the rest are simply glorified sentence-writers who don’t give a damn about being a watchdog for accountability and other high-fallutin’ principles.
For some high-minded hacks who believe the truth should be told (I am firmly one of them) despite the daily attempts at intra-editorial censorship, politicians to jaga hati and advertisers to suck up to, I wish them a lot of luck.
Seasoned journos know the rules of information dissemination, they read between the lines and give us readers the benefit of informed opinion without being condescending about it. If The Star’s Davin Arul or Kee Thuan Chye were to blog, for instance, I would be an ardent reader. Or S. Jayasankaran who sometime ago had a satirical column called Speakeasy in NST.
There is an interesting blog called The Unrepentant Journalist where a foreign (I think American from the tone and the content) journo actually writes what he/she feels on a whole lot of topics he/she feels strongly about. Just to underscore my points above, I must say that this journo blogs anonymously.