“Trying to control the Internet is like gift wrapping a balloon.” British barrister Richard O’Hagan, commenting on his government’s inability to gag the Twittersphere. (Quoted in the Immediate Network’s Media Digest)
Photo By: Michal Zacharzewski
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission may be trying to do some gift-wrapping of its own. On December 1 and 2 the FTC will convene a two-day workshop titled. “From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?” “The concern is that a robust news-gathering operation does not fit into the economic models born from the Internet and cable news,” writes Kenneth Corbin in his blog for RealTime IT News titled “Policy Fugue”. He goes on, “If one accepts the premise that quality local and investigative journalism is a civic good, this is a problem.”
The FTC has already sent up a balloon with its guideline for bloggers which Wendy Davis summarizes in Online Media Daily, “Bloggers who review products given to them for free should disclose that fact in some circumstances, but journalists who write reviews for news outlets generally need not do so.” While guidelines, not law, the FCC states, for example: A blogger who “frequently receives products from manufacturers because he or she is known to have wide readership within a particular demographic group that is the manufacturers’ target market” is more likely to be required to disclose a free review copy.” Subsequently, Davis reported, ”Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg has told the Federal Trade Commission that its new guides for bloggers are unconstitutional and should be retracted.”
Rothenberg reasons “The same guidelines do not apply to traditional media and therefore violate the free-speech rights of bloggers and pose an economic threat to small publishers.” Some of the sting was taken out of the news when the FTC’s Mary Engle told Marketing Daily, “We will be focusing our efforts on advertisers, not on individual bloggers,” she said. “We know there are hundreds of thousands of blogs, only a fraction of which are involved in marketing anyway. We’re not going to be patrolling the blogosphere.”
Meanwhile Cory Treffiletti, writing for Online Spin, sees The Real Future of Newspapers following two separate paths and only one of them includes paper of any form – local news, always of value, likely will be on paper. While the second path that newspapers will follow is that of a trusted, credible source for the news and related editorial that can be distributed through digital methods and syndicated wherever the reader might be.