Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Graham Davis is the lowest of scum

Imagine if emails you and others wrote were regularly published by a Bully Blogger in another country who used them in howling for you to be sacked from your job. Imagine if these blog attacks were then published across full pages of the next day's editions of a newspaper in your town. Imagine if these attacks went on for days and months. Imagine if you were criticised for something and the reasons advanced for your actions had nothing to do with what actually happened, yet as a professional you were ethically prevented from discussing the case publicly. Imagine if another person then launched a vile blog attack against you, and you were again enjoined from responding to its feeble logic.
How low can you go?
Imagine if this Bully Blogger criticised you for advocating for press freedom, insisting that a more government-friendly form of journalism was the only appropriate model for your host country and region. Forget for a moment that you had studied for years at a top journalism school and that you had not only earned a doctorate in the subject but had also taught international journalism at universities in several countries. This blogger was convinced that he knew better and that because you were an outsider you didn't have the right to advocate for what you believed was the best type of journalism. And imagine that you were forced to endure threats of not only violence but even death posted by anonymous commenters on this blog. And that those who dared to support you were attacked by others, who even posted their names and threatened that they would never get jobs in their chosen field.

Now imagine if your blogging bĂȘte noire admitted that he was a paid propaganda agent of an American public relations company hired by the dictator who had taken power in your host country, and that its specialty was engineering social media smear campaigns against regime critics. And that you did a bit of research on these spin doctors and posted on your own blog some information that was easily found elsewhere on the Internet, only to have the government complain and order you to apologise and delete the blog entry. And imagine that you told a joke about this propaganda outfit at an event, only to have the regime and the blogger complain about that as well. And finally, that you forwarded a funny email ridiculing both blogger and regime, which brought not only more complaints that it insulted the Glorious Leader, but also threats that your work permit could be revoked at any time.

And imagine if, unbelievably, this blogger-cum-propagandist actually held himself out as a reputable journalist in his own country and even hosted a weekly public affairs programme on national television. (How long do you think that is going to last?) And that he had won journalism awards and helped to review the journalism code of ethics in his country.

It all sounds a little bit unbelievable, doesn't it? Well, that is the nightmare I have been living for the past few months. Mercifully, it is now over. But the counteroffensive has only just begun.

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