This seems to be the axiom upon which every act of government is based in countries whose political elites don’t have a clue about the real implications of the Internet. In many European countries today, governments swim in self-congratulatory communications, boasting about their “achievements” in e-government. At the same time citizens empowered by the web are taking by storm all areas of public life. The latest example of disconnect between the people and governing elites seems to come from France (again), much to the despair of yours truly.
The French Minister of Culture, not satisfied with the
fiasco of the legislation on authors’ rights - mark my words, it will turn out to be YANAL = yet-another-not-applicable-law -, is now about to take an
initiative to "regulate" citizen-driven journalism on the web. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres embarks on a crusade to protect citizens from the perils of partisan coverage of news by amateur journalists (i.e. journalists who have not been coopted and do not have the blessing of the establishment). He hinted at the fact that he wants blog articles to involve at least one professional journalist who has a valid license as a member of the press. I don't know about you, but I am personally sick and tired of those guys who create regulations for stuff they don't understand and fear.
You see, Renaud
Donnedieu de Vabres is worried: according to him, blogs are not reliable sources of
information and they are biased and lead to misinformation of citizens… blah,
blah, blah…. Whereas, of course, the conservative mass media TF1 or Public
French TV or partisan newspapers or private radio channels supporting interest groups or indeed SkyTV and
Fox News are officially and automatically labeled as reliable. Perhaps because of the government’s
certainty about their almost complete allegiance to the "official truth".
The fact is that there is a managed coexistence and strong
codependency between the political world and established media. This results in the emergence of a new form of political regime that I call a mediacracy in which power is no longer in the hands of the people but rather in that of a political elite involved in an incestuous relationship with special-interest sponsored media. Actually, that was true until recently, until the web empowered citizens to share opinions and collectively build intelligence on often complex subjects like the proposed European Constitution last year. In that instance the political-media power did not prevail.
relationship goes far beyond public life and right into the privacy of
households of French politicians many of whom are in relationship with stars of
established media, themselves employed by established capitalists who finance
and support said politicians. And perhaps they do so because politicians are
their very best insurance policy against changes and challenges brought about by the adoption of new applications of infotech like blogs, vlogs, podcasts, WiFi networks and mobile devices. Perhaps established players do not really want power to the people.
Perhaps that is why they favor party-driven processes of pre-selection of
candidates to be presented to the people for crucial elections like the French
presidential election. Perhaps that is why they don’t like the idea of citizens
going around and reporting what they see as they understand it: it does drive
information out of control.
Now the good question is this: why in the world should we
consider the established media with their covert submission to or concealed
manipulation of politicians to be more trustworthy than bloggers and freelance
citizens-journalists who openly state that the content they produce is partisan
and do not try to position themselves as holders of the one and unique truth?
Another interesting question is the impact of such attempts to “regulate” the
free expression of individual opinions on one of the foundations of democracy:
free speech with the understanding that freedom works best when there is also
respect for other opinions so long as they don’t invite discrimination or
hatred or ethnic and religious violence.
It seems that regulation of everything they do not France
understand is the illness of outdated elites in government today. And France is a telltale example unfortunately: from a
totally idiotic and non-applicable legislation about ostentatious signs of
religious belief, to the legislation about authors’ rights, to protests against flexible
work contracts, to this new “initiative”, France is crumbling under the weight
of over-regulation and centralization. The imbalance in favor of the Jacobins
centralizers in their two-century old contest with the Girondins who favored
decentralized processes, is now the worst threat to
future in a global connected world.