Last Sunday, on ‘We the People’ (NDTV) the topic of debate was – Should blogs be regulated? My immediate reaction was - What sort of question is that?! Despite the absolutely senseless topic, I dutifully watched the entire debate - thought it was my responsibility as a blogger to do so :P
On the panel were people behind some popular blogs:
Emancipation of the Eve
Sour Apple Martini
To my surprise, the debate was highly disappointing. I thought it was meant to take blogging seriously. On the contrary, it displayed a very shallow understanding about this whole new means of expression. Add to it the many digressions it succumbed to only to return to the topic towards the end of the show.
Imagine this: Barkha Dutt reads some shocking lines from a post where the blogger talks about his sexual orientation and returns to him to ask ‘Do your parents read your blog?’ Excuse me? Is it some kind of exercise where your parents’ permission is mandatory?
The show was full of contradictions and superficial knowledge about blogs. A teenager proudly announced that he considered it to be a cheap stunt and his classmates had started blogging to get famous overnight! Sigh. He still hasn’t seen anything beyond Orkut.
Thankfully, towards the end the segment on the good and bad about blogs managed to pull out some decent threads. Again, nothing new was spelt out but it encouraged some discussion. Mr. Jagdish, a journalist who maintains a Hindi blog asserted that blogging has revived a new way of writing. Now you don’t have to wait for a newspaper or a publisher to print your stories. Add to it the instant responses! (I told you, nothing new!)
Barkha’s personal experience of an anonymous post holding her responsible for the death of 4 soldiers during the Kargil war led her to believe that though blogs offer freedom and eloquence, they lack accountability. This, in turn raised a question (which apparently was the original topic of the debate) “should blogs be subjected to some level of regulation?”
Towards the end of the show I felt it was a complete waste of time. I wish the NDTV team had done some decent research to know that not all blogs are ‘personal blogs’. Comments like they are a threat to the ‘indian culture’ and a mere way to get ‘cheap thrills’; picking up writers of only personal blogs as panelists; Barkha's superficial knowledge about the subject and the dearth of audience participation marred an otherwise potent topic of discussion. Nothing new was articulated, no conclusions were made. It was an utter disappointment, except for the fact that it became this post’s raison d’etre.