Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bloggers and conflicts of interest

A new trend is emerging. Individuals are expressing ideas and creating content on a new medium that can conceivably reach all of mankind. But there are bumps in the path of obliterating media barriers.

29 year old Jesse Morrison, a film video and journalism major at the University of Memphis and a projectionist for the Malco Theater chain in Memphis, Tennessee was fired after he wrote an early review of ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ for the website Ain’t It Cool News.

I can understand part of why the movie theater fired him. He disparaged their products, and that might affect the bottom line. But this sounds like a short sighted move from the theater and movie industry.

It's true the reviewer, as an employee of a movie theater, is not independent. But in an ever more connected world, who is? How many reviewers in newspapers are connected with major media outlets?

The reviewer said the Silver Surfer movie sucks. Well, GASP! Who'd have guessed another big budget super hero movie would not hold up to criticism. Anyone see Dare Devil, Hulk, Ghost Rider or the Fantastic Four?

Best Buy, Target and other online retailers post reviews for their customers, on their own site even. You could almost call it an added value. They even post really bad reviews.

As Dave Carlson said, the Internet is a gun pointed at the head of every middle man. The free flow of information, content, comment and criticism is more than an economic problem/reality but the very fabric of our Marketplace of Ideas.

Some current rights owners will undoubtedly be disturbed. Perhaps content producers (movie studios, publishers, pop acts) will learn to quit releasing crap.

More fun quotes about free speech:

John F. Kennedy: "We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is afraid of its people."

Noam Chomsky: “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

Swedish file sharers: "The Pirate Bay itself has one political opinion - share your files, your culture. It's about technology that gives you your freedom."