March 11, 2005

Down for the count

While the blogosphere is still trying to come to terms with Mediaah's second demise, the Wayback Machine seems to have taken the side of mainstream media (MSM) by last archiving the site when the first demise was in progress! Bad humour and crappy conspiracy theories apart, I would still want to see (or ask around and find out) what the contents of the legal notice were. From what I have been told, there have been two legal notices -- one from the bad boys of Indian media and the other from a person, in the news due to tidings in far away London, about whom Mediaah has been writing about recently.

Firstly, I do not understand the ruckus about the MSM censoring blogs and the premature predictions about the end of the world as far as blogs are concerned. Relax, this is not the end of the world. Libel, slander etc have always been part of the proceedings if you were going to ruffle a few 'pristine' feathers here and there. There is just no excuse for kicking ass and then not expecting a backlash from the owner of the ass. It is just ridiculous and naive to do something like that. For instance, I am writing things here knowing fully well that I can be thrown out for a number of things if my employer wants to do just that. If I can't live with that, then I have no business writing all this. It is not a perfect world, but that is the world we live in.

Legally speaking, there would really be no point for Pradyuman to fight it out in the courts. Even in the case of SCO chasing after the open source community, there have been judgements which were legally sound, but absurd from the point of view of a programmer. Law, really, is one of the slowest adapting institutions in any society, especially in India. Moreover, Mediaah, from what we have been told, does not make any reasonable amount of money and media organisations excel in long-drawn lawsuits as a side business, making it a non-starter of an option. For that matter, Pradyuman's current line of thinking sounds like the most reasonable for me. Lay low for a while, get the heat off his back, let Google lead you to the archives (the links to the archived pages at the bottom work well enough) and start elsewhere with at least a token amount of protection.

What bothers me, though, are the fever pitched comments about the demise of a watchdog and how journalism would suffer collectively. What most of these wide-eyed-wonderers don't realise is that journalism, as they imagine it to be, does not really exist anymore. It is a matter of folklore and fond nostalgia, than reality. Marketing and ad sales people call the shots in newspapers not by accident. Nobody, not even a newspaper, sells their soul unknowingly. It is done by purpose. Gulp it down and get over it. There is not a lot for you to change there. Move on. If you really want to make a change, start something on your own, show how it should be done. Probably then the realisation would dawn that the world is not quite as black and white as it is often made out to be.

Update (Monday, March 14, 2005): The famous 19 posts have been re-posted here and the legal notice has been put up in full here.