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'We Media' Agenda Continues at Davos
BBC poll shows 'mostly negative' view on U.S. role
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2007-01-24 05:49 (KST)   
Issues about changing forms of journalism and the voice of citizens will be included in the discussion at the Global Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which is hosted by the World Economic Forum. This year there is an expanded online aspect connected through the BBC, blogger Jeff Jarvis, the Guardian's Comment is Free and the Huffington Post. There is a connection with the We Media conference in London last year when the Guardian's Emily Bell and the Jarvis Buzzmachine moderated some links with the blogosphere. There was discussion at a fringe meeting about how the platform representing the BBC and Reuters might have missed the point about social media but at least some issues were raised.

In her current blog Arianna Huffington claims that "the overriding theme this year -- The Shifting Power Equation -- is a tip of the hat to the impact of New Media and technological advances in communication, and the ways in which they've radically altered the political, economic, corporate, and cultural landscapes." She also claims that anyone has the equivalent of an all-access pass by adding the tag "davos07" to his or her blog post or video.

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There are some obvious questions about this. Matthias on the Swiss Metablog writes, "My bet is that after 2005's embarrassing but entertaining Easongate scandal, they'll make sure nothing appears on that Web site without prior approval by the censors." He links directly to a World Economic Forum page that asks, "Do U.S. troops target journalists in Iraq?"

The main page of the Huffington Post links on Tuesday to a BBC World Service report based on a survey of 26,381 people in 25 countries including the United States. When asked about the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, an average of 68 percent of respondents answered that it "provokes more conflict than it prevents." Among Americans, the number of those who viewed their country's role positively fell to 57 percent -- 6 percentage points down from last year and 14 percentage points down from two years ago.

Across the 25 countries polled, 49 percent of respondents said the United States played a mainly negative role in the world.

Discussion at Davos may include how this range of opinion is represented in media. Al Jazeera has asked for an explanation of the remarks by David Blunkett about bombing their offices. There is still a U.K. trial pending under the Official Secrets Act relating to a memo that is also at the center of a Freedom of Information request. The Al Jazeera memo reported in the Daily Mirror could be discussed in the context of how U.S. policy is perceived.

After the London We Media conference Jeff Jarvis wrote in Buzzmachine about "scandalous anti-Americanism," based on a Times of London review of a book by Guillaume Le Quintrec. The quoted review includes some text that is worth reflecting on.

"Through its willingness to co-operate with the Third World, its attachment to multilateralism, its dialogue with other regions, the EU appears as a model on the international scene," it says.

By contrast, modern American unilateralism "enshrined by George W. Bush is widely criticized throughout the world."

Whether or not this is a fair description of the EU, there are now questions raised about President Bush by U.S. citizens who do not think of themselves as anti-American.

According to Dan Froomkin, the percentage of Americans who find George W. Bush "honest and trustworthy, now at an all-time low of 40 percent, has been in negative territory since November of 2005, or a little over a year."

The online discussion around Davos may help to clear the air. It may be worth a try or it may lead to something later. I have put my own comment on the Jeff Jarvis YouTube page but no reply so far.

The next We Media event is in February in Miami. So the conversation about press freedom and social media continues.
Will Pollard is working on a fan blog for Dan Froomkin, where there may be more about Davos07.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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