From Famine To Excess

Just last year, the Hong Kong mainstream media would not pay any attention to the bloggers, whom they equate to "teenage online diarists' (Hong Kong Blogosphere Up In Arms; Weblogs as Online Diaries; Blog is Blog).  In recent months, the mainstream media has leaned strongly the other way as complete sections of newspapers are now devoted to Internet-driven stories (Hong Kong Media At Crossroads).  Is that a good thing?  Not totally, according to Hong Kong blogger Sidekick.
The case study cited by Sidekick is in Apple Daily.  The blogger is 12-year-old Rachel, who wrote:

"Yesterday, my dead beat me!  He beat me until I was bruised in my hands and feet!  He could not outtalk me, so he beat me!  He is so stupid!  Then I told him that he needed to go to the Castle Peak Psychiatric Centre!  This iss so funny when I think about it!  But I am not going to let this go!  I want him to suffer an awful death!  I want him to die with a severed body, with his eyes opened, with no burial, with his limbs torn off, with his body shred into ten thousand pieces, with his corpse whipped ... that is not all ... because I have plenty more to say!!!" 

Rachel had posted photographs of the bruises on her blog.


Here are Sidekick's editorial comments:

This Apple Daily report has plenty of text and photographs, including:

- the Internet alias of the girl (why didn't Apple Daily use a pseudonym?)
- a screen capture of the blog (which means that we know the BSP was Yahoo! and we know what the page looks like)
- what the girl looks like (even though her eyes were blurred out)
- the bruises on her body after the beating.

Everything is there, except they did not spell out the URL of the blog.  Actually, if you read the screen capture carefully, you can find the blog URL ... (even if the post mentioned in Apple Daily has been deleted, it will still be possible to find the home page of the blog).

Yes, a blog is an open medium.  In previous discussions on this topic, we have said: "If you don't want something to be publicized, then don't put it in the blog."  According to the newspaper report, that blog has been mentioned at many discussion forums and so this is nothing new.  However, being published in a newspaper is very different from being published on the Internet.  The impact of newspapers cannot be ignored, because mainstream media are not mainstream media otherwise!

Dear news workers, have you thought about the consequences of this kind of reporting?  As the girl wrote, the blog is just a channel of emotional catharsis and she did not really want to kill her father.  She also said that she was not concerned that her father would find out about this now-popular Internet essay because "he does not know how to get on the Internet and so I am not worried about him reading it!"  But when this appears in a newspaper, the father's friends and relatives may see the photographs and recognize the girl.  And then ... the consequences are unimaginable ...

This girl is only 12 years old.  She does not know how to protect herself.  She does not realize the mighty power of the Internet discussion forums and, worse yet, she does not understand that "certain media" are to be feared!  If the girl does not know how to protect herself, then will the media protect her?

If something happens as a result of this newspaper report, can Apple Daily live with its responsibility?

Earlier when Apple Daily began its "mad" rush to publish Internet and blog contents, I have seen certain "lucky" bloggers delete the related posts in order to protect themselves.  But with this blog post, the red alert has come on!

To the media. please protect the bloggers!

To the bloggers, can we actively provide some guidelines for the mainstream media?  Or should we take some joint action?

Why have I narrowly focused on asking the mainstream media to protect just bloggers?  Because bloggers have certain unique characteristics:
1.  Most blogs are centered around an indvidual.  Those blogs that are "personal online diaries" will have personal information, photographs and other personal contents.
2.  Most blogs are structurally complete.  As soon as you find one essay, you can easily find the other information about the blogger.  Thus, it is easy to uncover the blogger.
3.  Blogs are easier to search than discussion forums.

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