Forgive me for using an American commentator to help explain what BayBuzz is all about. But this article by online guru Dave Morgan provides such relevant context that I can’t resist.

Below are some excerpts from his article, but I urge you to click here and read the whole piece. Because BayBuzz is just one reflection of what you can expect to see in New Zealand as the economics of media change … and more political and social activists here become skilled in using the available online tools.

Previewing his column, Morgan says:

“It is about the watchdog role of media and my concerns about who will fill that role for us in the future, as traditional media companies — newspapers, local broadcasters and news magazines — become less and less able to do so.

“It is plain that these companies are shrinking, and that many will go away … there hasn’t yet been enough discussion about who out there will relentlessly watch and report for us on governments and courts and crime and business and our neighborhoods and the environment.

“While most people focus on the high-profile role that the media plays in exposing events like Watergate, the vast majority of media’s Fourth Estate role happens in relative obscurity. Take government records, for example. Just because some government records are called “public” doesn’t automatically make them available to the public. Someone has to fight for access to them. Someone has to find them. Someone has to copy them. Someone has to interpret them. Someone has to report them. Someone has to publish them. And then, those someones have to do it all over again, day after day, month after month, year after year …

“I think that our new media watchdogs will look more like craigslist or Google or Facebook than they will newspapers or news magazines or evening news shows. I can imagine new journalists — maybe trench-savvy citizen journalists — building specialized search engines or mash-ups that crawl public records and permit citizens to dig and find just what they’re looking for, and then create mash-ups of their own with maps, graphs and other databases.

“I can imagine citizen-to-citizen information exchanges like craigslist where these new journalists can post these findings and connect to others with relevant information, compare notes and coordinate efforts. I imagine these new journalists will use blog platforms to publish this information and create comment-driven discussions of their findings with others. I imagine they will use photo-sharing sites to upload and share images and graphics that help tell their story. I imagine they will use video distribution platforms like YouTube to distribute videos of their interviews or videos of public meetings and events as well as their own commentary. I imagine they will use meeting and event organization platforms like MeetUp to create face-to-face meetings of other folks that care. I imagine some will use self-publishing book platforms like Lulu to publish both print and e-books filled with their research and commentary.”

I don’t think most elected officials at the local level have a clue as to what is going to happen … the intense scrutiny they and their decisions will face, the transparency that will be forced upon them, the accountability that will be demanded by an informed public.

But make no mistake, it’s coming. And BayBuzz is just a taste.

Tom Belford

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2 Comments

  1. All well and good and much to be desired, except New Zealand seems determined to make itself an international laughing-stock where modern communications are concerned. In spite of government promises, we still are burdened with one of the world's more backward technological infrastructures, making it an excruciating experience for many non-urban internet users stuck on dial-up even to view a site like BayBuzz.

    On top of that, our authorities have been hovering on the brink of cementing our position as a hopeless provincial backwater by allowing one of the most incompetent pieces of legislation ever conceived to come into force. This is the infamous Section 92a of the Copyright Amendment Act, framed by Labour but supported by National until yesterday, when common sense finally prevailed at literally the last possible moment. Reacting to widespread protests from all sectors of the Internet community, John Key has delayed implementation of this final portion of the Act for another month to allow further negotiations and the possible scrapping of the section altogether.

    For those of you who don't yet know what this is about, Section 92a is a tiny paragraph essentially dictated by recording industry lobby groups that would require ISPs to spy on the browsing behaviour of all their customers and permanently cut off the internet access of anyone merely ACCUSED of downloading copyrighted material, with no involvement of the courts and no proof whatsoever being required. So open to abuse is this appalling Section that it was removed from the Act during the Select Committee stage of the legislative process, then re-inserted above all objections by then-Associate Minister Judith Tizard. Legislation comparable to this section has been considered and emphatically rejected by the European Union as a whole and by Germany and Great Britain individually. The likelihood that New Zealand would agree to act as a guinea pig in this matter has attracted international astonishment. If people overseas didn't already think we were a nation of sheep-'lovers', they certainly do now.

    And to be perfectly clear, in spite of attempts from certain quarters to obfuscate the real issue, opponents of this law are NOT proponents of copyright theft. In fact, the most vociferous activists are artists themselves who live from copyright but do not want this terrible law enacted in their names. For more information go to http://creativefreedom.org.nz/.

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