Freedom And The Internet

The Internet and competition are making those of us the Free World freer, but Fear States are becoming less free, and the images we see are still controlled by liberals.

First the good news. Peggy Noonan observes that one by-product of decline of the old US news networks has been they lie less:

…the very diminution of the importance of network news leaves some old news hands to drop their guard and announce what they are: liberal Democrats. Nothing wrong with that, but they might have told us when they were in power. The very existence of conservative media–of Rush Limbaugh, of Fox, of the Internet sites–has become an excuse by previously “I call ‘em as I see ‘em/I try to be impartial” journalists to advance their biases.

Actually, it’s more Fox than anything. The existence of a respected cable network that is nonliberal and non-Democratic (or that is conservative, or Republican, or neoconservative–people on the right have polite disagreements about this) is more and more freeing news outlets, encouraging them actually, as a potential business model, to be more and more what they are. Is this good? Well, it’s clearer.

And here’s what happened when a German court tried to shut down Wikipedia:

The German-language version of the Web-based encyclopedia Wikipedia remained off-line Friday, following a court order barring the German chapter of the Wikipedia Foundation as part of a lawsuit filed by the family of a dead hacker. But by going to http://www.wikipedia.org , and clicking on the German language link, users can still access German content.

Also any English speaker can find out the identity of the hacker on the English site.

Now the bad news. Google and Yahoo help China run their Fear State:

All the US companies have been criticised for censoring news sites, search engines and weblogs that China’s communist government considers subversive or obscene. For example, a web user in China who tried to search Google or Yahoo for subjects such as democracy and human rights would find nothing in his search results.

There was outrage in September when it emerged that Yahoo had supplied details to the Chinese authorities of the personal e-mail account of Shi Tao, a 37-year-old journalist. He was found guilty of “spreading state secrets” and jailed for 10 years, for forwarding to a foreign website a Chinese government circular banning the media from reporting the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

And Victor Davis Hanson reports some unpleasant truths about our own news sources – it’s worth reading the whole thing – here’s one shocking data point (my emphasis):

Israeli soldiers are actually forewarned of clashes when film crews suddenly materialize. (Coalition forces have experienced the same phenomenon in Iraq.)
How do these reporters or photographers, on a quest for dramatic stories and footage, know where the “spontaneous” violence is to “erupt”? One or another foot soldier in their “small army of Palestinian fixers” is tipped off by the attackers. The
Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Press (which together supply 80% of news images to the world media) require the assistance of natives who speak the local language, know who’s who, and can get things done. These hired locals, in turn, make decisions about where to drive and what to translate (or leave un-translated).

80%! Later posts will examine how we can bust the Fear States’ censorship of the Internet, and break the Agency monopoly.

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