There’s been some talk about ‘doing something’. I think writing for anybody, even online, is doing something. I’ve often underestimated words cause they’re intangible, but they are what laws and peace talks are ultimately made of. They’re important and they can be complex or disagreeable and that’s OK. Sometimes it’s important to express that you’re simply fed up with the violence, because life returns to normal so fast here. Even something so obvious often goes unsaid, and that’s partially why nothing gets done about it. I’m also happy that people actually make an effort to understand and communicate with other perspectives, rather than just repeating the party line. Too many have assumed they knew what good and evil are without trying to understand what makes good people do evil. And then they do evil themselves, in the name of the good. That thinking just perpetuates itself, it doesn’t lead to peace. Anyways, the discussion happening is important in itself, but it could come closer to ‘something’ if it were connected with the MSM.
Value of MSM
In America the blogowhat derives a lot of its power from the MSM, particular the stories it helped break and sustain on Trent Lott, Dan Rather, etc. And the buzz and cash it generated for Howard Dean. In fact the blogosphere has an inordinate influence on America because the MSM actually overestimates its importance. For example, everyone thought Howard Dean would walk with the Democratic nomination, but all the blog posts in the world didn’t equal votes. Kos‘s rantings aside, the ‘netroots’ is actually deeply disconnected from red state America. It is however, very connected with the coastal media and that projects its voice very loud. Most MSM now either run blogs, cite them or mention them on air. The two feed off each other in a symbiotic relationship.
In SL no one notices the blogosphere so much, though people in ad agencies do seem to know whenever I puke. Blogs and online media don’t drive or effect the MSM much, however. Part of this is because people don’t really reference news stories as much as the news which affects their lives. I, for example, have written mainly about the deaths I’m loosely connected to and not the ones which are just headlines. I don’t actually read or watch local news. Mostly because I’m too anal about production values. Talking about and linking to current news stories is the surest way to build a relationship but there are actual production barriers. The Daily Mirror and Sunday Times are subscription only (silly model for an emerging market) and thus impossible to link to. The Daily News is enclosed in some deeply fucked up HTML frames that make it also improbable to link. Reading any of them online sucks, regardless.
This is a crucial disconnect that will hopefully be fixed, but those are institutional changes. The MSM is still very web-hostile, but they still have great reach. The circulation is high and people talk about the stories. The quality of writing (especially editorial) is generally low and overly verbose, so a few good, pithy posts would probably stick out. If they could get in.
Connecting to MSM
One simple way to connect to the MSM is to repackage posts as Letters to the Editor. Then stuff could be published for a wider audience. Some secondary options are
Press Releases: The University Teachers and other groups (some which barely exist) routinely run press releases or statements on current events. A group like Moju can draft statements, get comments on them and send the statements to the papers. They can be published under Moju’s (or whoever’s) name. Don’t think it’s appropriate for Kottu.
Static Page: One could theoretically ask the Sunday Times or Mirror or somebody to run a synopsis of what the blogosphere is talking about that week.
Ummmm: That’s all I got. Sleepy.
It is also prolly worthwhile to translate anything sent to the English papers into Sinhala and Tamil and send to Sunday Lankadeepa and all. Translation is theoretically cheap, though good is a bit hard to find. And yadda yadda yadda, those are some concrete somethings people could do. As to why that moderate debate and discussion are important in and of themselves, I went into it on the For Peace Talks Post. Suffice it to say that the government, opposition and terrorists are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. What Sri Lanka needs is a little more head.
PS. I think Moju is having a meetup at Bamblaish Barista’s on July 1st, the day after the Maskerade party at H20. I’ll go if it’s on.