Sunday, April 17, 2011

How the West Was Won #2

I read a post from a fellow blogger on how bored he felt with writers blogging about the process of writing; (how hard it all is, how to do it, how to get published etc etc.) I can't help but agree with him. HowtoWrite blogs tend to make me simultaneously glaze over and bind up - no fun at either end of the transaction.

Why not just tell ripping yarns and be done with it? Hear hear, says Toa. Deckying on a fishing boat with the likes of Old Salt, writing a history thesis and generally living a chaotic but happy life will supply A WineDark Sea with plentiful stories.

The problem is, this week I was thinking about writing much the same kind of post as the ones Tom tends to click 'exit' from. Well, maybe not a HowtoWrite but a few thoughts on the process of this blogging thang, editing and Search Politics

So here goes, anyway. If I write a post on an issue that is currently surfacing and then I edit that same post over the next few days, as the story progresses and new angles emerge - is that unethical? Probably. It could be quite misleading in an historical sense. The date of publish stays the same on my blog - and that word 'publish' is the clinch.

Online journalism can get a story out twenty four hours before newsprint, a biggie in the current news cycle. It can also provide 'user content'. That is, the payer provides the media -  via the media - comments, feedback and free, insightful articles. (I'm not going to mention how much money this advancement saves the Murdochs of this world. Oh I just did? Sorry.)
A story uploaded online can be altered as the story progresses. This is quite a different situation to newsprint, which anyone who has ever read a newspaper or accessed archives on microfiche will know.

I'm kind of straying here. At some stage I really want to get back to the video stoush between the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and Fortesque Metals Group that has been working the room this week. As I watched it unfold, I began to update on my original post and add links to Crikey articles and Supreme Court pdfs that were available. I also felt very tempted to alter the original post to reflect the challenging politics that were emerging around the story. I wasn't sure whether to edit or not and that is why I am writing now.

Apparently, no one at FMG took YAC's video seriously until it went viral. Once that happened, FMG released a counter video a few days ago to speak against the YAC's campaign.  This new video is narrated in soothing, gentle tones and is nothing like the angry 'heavily edited' work of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation's film that got taken down by Vimeo after threats of legal action. Since then, the online media community, including Crikey, has gone completely silent on the issue of Yindjibarndi Aboriginal politics/contemporary paternalism/native title/taxation relief for the Big Miners.

Perhaps they are completely freaked out on thinking they may be weighing into an Aboriginal politics shitfight. Perhaps it is just the weekend, and five days off over Easter without taking on Fortesque Metals Group sounds like a good thing.

Which leads me to another point and it is not the looming public holiday. 

Search Politics is always connected to the ethics of online media. My pithy reservations about editing my blog are rather minuscule in the face of this.
If you type in a search for 'Yindjibarndi' and 'FMG', the FMG's new counter-video will come up, highlighted, at the top of the page. Every time.
How much money did that cost?
I'm certainly not going to link it for free.
Think about it next time you click on search.

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