Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SC and the Blogger Protection Act

*In the Gold Box is Adam Fogle who operates The Palmetto Scoop, an influential South Carolina Blog with connections to former House Majority Leader Rick Quinn and himself an employee of Mr. Quinns Political Consultancy Firm.

FITSNews is all a flutter over the progression of the Blogger Protection Act and its sponsors Gresham Barrett and Joe Wilson. I suspect other members of the SC Blogosphere will be following suit with their batting of the eyes and gushing over the leadership that certain South Carolina congressman have shown on the issue. According to Will Folks:

“All this would do is extend the protection that (blogs) already have under federal regulation in some kind of statute form,” Barrett said on today’s call. “Everybody that I’ve talked to doesn’t see a problem with it. Everybody understands that (bloggers) are becoming more important. It seems to be a medium people are using now that doesn’t varnish over the issues. It’s pretty much the straight scoop.”
Yes but there's a thin difference between not varnishing over the issue and over editorializing. The facts can become obscured with all the opinion. And in many cases the facts may not be reported at all, but it's hard to discern when you only read a spin with very little evidence to back it up. And Jason Spencer of the Spartanburg-Herald Journal's blog points out something else about this particular statute: the act would exempt most Internet activity from being considered a campaign contribution or expense. From the bill, "Internet activity" is defined as "sending or forwarding electronic messages, providing a hyperlink or other direct access to another person's Web site, blogging, creating, maintaining, or hosting a Web site, paying a nominal fee for the use of another person's Web site, and any other form of communication distributed over the Internet."

Well from that you can see what glaring concern stands out immediately - the notion that Internet activity isn't considered a campaign contribution or expense - which means that blogs essentially can and will (and some already have) become the mouth piece of politicians. As Mr Spencer continued to say:
Blogs in this state [South Carolina] certainly have broken plenty of news. Of course, that's sometimes easier to do when you work for a consulting firm, work or have worked for a prominent elected official, or -- and this is especially important -- aren't bound by the same code of ethics as journalists.
South Carolina is after all "the foulest swamp of electoral dirty tricks in America." And one only has to look as far as the conservative corner of the blogosphere which consistently contain the most "influential blogs" in this state (go figure) to see this co mingling of journalism, colour commentary, and political spin. Mr. Spencer suggests some form of self regulation and concedes that the Media Blog Association is currently trying to work on that, but self policing is difficult when the organization is rife with the very sort of "paid for" blogger the group wishes to discourage, or reign in or even just expose - which causes one to question the quest for legitimacy. That's not to say that legitimacy in the blogosphere is never going to happen, I agree with Mr. Spencer that blogs are becoming legitimate as they work in concert with MSM but even the media must beware with whom to contract for information because there are many wolves out there in sheep's clothing who don't serve themselves and accept cash from political candidates and political consultant firms employed by political candidates.

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