Unknown to several people including celebrities, the word ‘journalist’ in its simple form refers to a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper, a blog, website or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television.
Journalism is the act of disseminating news to the public. Journalism is more of a practice, not an academic discipline. This is why Julian Assange, Christopher Hitchens, Komla Dumor and several others are counted as journalists (great ones for that matter) without having attended any major school of journalism…
I am making the above statement to arrive at the point that, the emergence of new media and the shift from the traditional notion of information dissemination has created a long journalistic chain with several people falling into the pot of journalism—just by virtue of what they do from their bedrooms.
As usual, the above has led to gross diminishing of professionalism and expected standards but these does not take away the simple fact that, we now have different forms of journalists with great following and influence.
The influx of new media platforms like blogs have taken away great deal of strength from the traditional news outlets like newspapers and magazines with many struggling to maintain readership…
No wonder the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled in the Cox case that bloggers are entitled to the same protections as journalists. In the court’s reasoning, the court said; “The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable….”
All the above show that, a new media has emerged with great influence and legal protection, as well as a burden of responsibility—-but it seems our African Celebrities (especially Ghanaian Celebrities) do not know how to deal with this new media.
Either you agree with me or not, all around the world, the power of the internet has given bloggers (new media journalists) an unimaginable influence and an unimaginable level of readership that newspapers and magazines only dreamt of having…
A blogger publishes an article and within a minute, it can be read even in Iran and North Korea (provided there is an internet access). The wider reach of such publications will reasonably imply that due diligence is made before bloggers hit the publish button but this is not always the case.
When it comes to intended malicious publications (remember not all false publications are malicious), the law holds the publisher (journalist/blogger) accountable with defamation being one of the areas of redress.
With the internet having created a new world (virtual world), we are bound to have some of the traits of our real world making waves—and by traits, I mean gossip, unfavourable publications and lies, especially about public figures.
Celebrities (even our Ghanaian ones) do not go about responding to every area gossip on the street about them or lies that people are throwing about them in the real world; therefore, they must be able to decide on what they respond to online and what they ignore…
Imagine if Rihanna has to wake up each day and respond to all the unfavourable publications, speculations, rumours and gossip about herself or her relationship with Chris Brown and Drake, do you think she will ever get any work done or know peace in her life?
The new media has come with numerous benefits and like any other thing; it has come with disgusting consequences too. The earlier our celebrities learn to deal with the new media by ignoring most of the non-malicious publications, gossip, rumours and the unfavourable publications, the better…
I am not suggesting that people should abuse the new media—as I stated above, the bigger the legal protection accorded to bloggers, the bigger the legal responsibility to operate within a reasonable standard too.
At the end of it all, I think celebrities should (unless absolute necessary) pull ‘I can’t be bothered’ attitude on the wide range of gossip, speculations and unfavourable publications that the new media as a tool will fetch them.
As some people say, it comes with the status!
Law & Celebrity is a column on GhanaCelebrities.Com which focuses on how the law affects our celebrities, their lifestyles, new media, entertainment, etc.
Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, who will be looking at these issues is a postgraduate International Human Rights student, holds a degree in Law (LLB), Diploma in Para Legal and also has extensive knowledge and interest in celebrity lifestyle & social media.