While bloggers claimed one victory from the Supreme Court of Canada last week as hyperlinking was deemed to not be libel, they may face yet another hurdle in the coming months led by the fallout from the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal and the Quebec Federation of Journalists.
Serious questions were being raised at Thursday night’s Canadian Journalism Foundation event about whether or not regulation is needed across a field that includes journalists, reporters, bloggers, or whatever one may be. Simply put, the Internet has made it possible for many to rise above traditional reporters and journalists, and not more so in the age of Twitter.
It’s not the first time the question has been raised, but never has the Internet played such a massive role in media.
A press release presented by the foundation beforehand suggests that 40% of Canadians now say journalists use tactics like phone hacking or paying police in pursuit of stories.
The chair of the Canadian Journalism Foundation Robert Lewis (not the editor of this site) says: “I know that media in Canada have not gone the way of the News of the World. Yet the Murdoch excesses have unfairly tainted the whole business. Journalists need to redouble their commitment to accountability and transparency”.
Even so, Bryan Myles, the president of the Quebec Federation of Journalists, is pursuing accrediation for journalists at large in Quebec to have “status” over the rest of society. He said that 86% of the two thousand journalists he represents were in favour of accrediation. This is in large part because Myles says Quebec is the most corrupt province in Canada.
That’s something that John Honderich, the chair of Torstar, believed was something that may be determined by the Supreme Court of Canada yet again- whether or not an official distinction between journalists, bloggers and others needs to be put into place.
How one would determine that distinction was questionable according to Jamie Cameron, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Law school, who moderated the panel considering anything and anyone can be media now.
One of the ways Twitter currently enforces this on their “information network” is through verified accounts.
While I think accrediation to events and freedom of information is something that will not happen for a “select” group of journalists as Myles is pushing for, I do think there should be put forth reasonable consideration for an overhaul of how Twitter currently verifies accounts.
Rather than having a standard verification for celebrities and what not, perhaps there should be different labels for different types of influencers- whether they be a musician, a social influencer, a journalist, a reporter, a celebrity, a sports athlete, and so on and so forth.
That is one way forward in a world in which Canadians seem to increasingly distrust those who hold the balance of power when it comes to information less and less. That’s not a good thing considering that the complexity of it all continues to increase, as there is more information available than ever before.
That’s why there’s a need for more media to make sense of it all than ever before as the world becomes more specialized. Giving status and power to a select few will not solve the latter problem of mass information- and that will only be especially frowned on by the younger generation that does not need context as much as older generations.
Hence, the “we are the 99%” movement that’s spread across North America in recent weeks.
Can Twitter appease the current generation in power with context while also putting in place a system that rewards those that do rise to some notable fame?
It is a creative economy after all, and baby boomers are the fastest growing social media segment out there.