handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents.jpg Reporters Without Borders | Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents: It’s too soon to really know what to think of blogs. We’ve been reading newspapers, watching TV and listening to the radio for decades now and we’ve learnt how to immediately tell what’s news and what’s comment, to distinguish a tabloid “human interest” magazine from a serious one and an entertainment programme from a documentary. We don’t have such antennae to figure out blogs.

These “online diaries” are even more varied than the mainstream media and it’s hard to know which of them is a news site, which a personal forum or one that does serious investigation or one that’s presenting junk evidence. It’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some bloggers will gradually develop their own ethical standards to become more credible and win public confidence.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest. Plenty of bloggers have been hounded or thrown in prison. One of the contributors to this handbook, Arash Sigarchi, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for posting several messages online that criticised the Iranian regime. His story illustrates how some bloggers see what they do as a duty and a necessity, not just a hobby…