The Star Tech Central published a piece of news today in which some of my comments appeared. A reporter approached me to get my reaction about how Malaysian bloggers are reporting and writing about the tsunami to strike the shores of Asia.
The following is my complete response (unedited) to the questions posed by the Star reporter via email:
Dear [Star reporter],
I take it these questions are meant for an article to show how Malaysian bloggers reacted to the tsunami? Alright, here are my answers:
> 1. What's your opinion of local blog coverage in the first 24 hours, in terms of breadth, depth and timeliness?
According to bloggers contributing to Project Petaling Street (PPS), bloggers reported the event much, much faster than traditional media and even non-traditional media sources such as Malaysiakini.com and The Star Online. Besides the timeliness, the reports made in some blogs come from personal experiences to the tremors/tsunami. That makes compelling and revealing reading.
> 3. In your opinion, what advantages do the local blog community have over the mainstream media in reporting events such as these? What disadvantages? What could local bloggers have done better?
Speed is the chief advantage. No editorial control, no need to cater to the schedule of the printing press = faster speed. Disadvantage = resources and reputation. A blogger is still a single person, while a newspaper or tv station is an army of people working towards a singular goal. Furthermore, with the exception of a few blogs, most people discount the opinions of bloggers -- bloggers have yet to earn the trust of the Greater Audience (i.e. Joe Public). Further disadvantages include their reach. For all their speed and timeliness, bloggers only reach people who log onto the internet and browse blogs. The number of people who access blogs is relatively tiny.
> 4.Do you think blogs foster a spirit of community in trying times like this?
Absolutely. Blogs foster a spirit of community ANYTIME. A lot of bloggers have become friends in the offline world, and meet up regularly for parties, meetings, activities, etc, etc.
> 5. Do you think that blogs can provide an emotional outlet for people who are affected in any way by events such as these?
Absolutely. One blogger once wrote (i forget who), "blogging is self-therapy". Writing about the issues in your mind help you think them through.
> 6. Feel free to add any other comments you have on the matter.
I'm very proud of the Malaysian blogging scene; i've been around for a while, watching it develop at a steady pace, and the maturity of thought demonstrated through the writing of Malaysian bloggers is excellent; the tsunami event is an example of what i'm referring to. I've always been an exponent of the written word, and i think that blogs are a genuine 21st tool for learning and teaching. You learn about yourself and the world when you blog. You teach others what you've learned by writing it down and sharing it on your blog.