Access to Platforms comes with Responsibility

Josh Nass Strategies focuses on a myriad of issues in the communications space for many different interests – both private and public. One of the most important principles for any business – large, medium or small, is maintaining discretion and gaining clients’ trust. This is especially imperative in communications and the media world. 

The media industry can get very nasty. Since the digital media world has evolved, and social media has proliferated in an aggressive fashion, there has been an ability for anyone to have a platform – no matter how inconsequential or insignificant that person might be. This is both a constructive and destructive development. 

Josh Nass Strategies on Pinterest explains that it  can be used by some in a constructive way to conduct citizen journalism. There’s no reason why the title of “journalist” or the role embedded in that title should be limited to folks that have gone to journalism schools and been given opportunities by local outlets where they may have risen to receive top-notch recognition in whatever medium they might specialize in reporting through. 

But it  can also be used for nefarious means; and in the case of cyberbullies and those employing similar tactics, this can have some very troubling consequences. The libel laws in the country are not as strict as they should be. If a person is a public figure for example, the standard by which an actionable claim for defamation can be made, is quite high. One must be able to show malice and a willful disregard for the truth in the publisher of the information.

In other words, the plaintiff has to actually prove that the defendant in the case was deliberate in targeting them in a malicious and libelous fashion. It  is a very difficult threshold to cross. And with the proliferation of the blogosphere, the ability for bad actors to exploit these variables, and the current dynamics of the digital space for these ugly purposes, has only grown. It’s a sad reality; but it’s not one we’re in a position to change or be able to run away from. 

It’s unfortunate that the authorities and our lawmakers have not sought to change the law in a way that would seek to aptly deter this sort of behavior from persisting. Instead, it  seems that this behavior is going to continue happening until these bad actors feel that it’s actually not in their interest for it  to continue persisting. 

Josh Nass Strategies on Slideshare addressed these issues in a way that seem rational but also thoughtful. There are various ways that one can seek redress for these sorts of harmful acts of misconduct. But the focus for the time being should be on also seeking the constructive ramifications of these developments in the digital and social media industries. 

For example, it  now empowers people to have a platform that otherwise would not have the ability to communicate their reporting and transit their own thoughts to the general public and wider audience. Consider for example, the important work of activists – whether they are promoting their own pet issue or something related to human rights or promoting democracy. Activists need to feel empowered to be able to keep a rapport with their audience that is real, durable and lasting. The ability to blog and add content about their important work and in the process, develop their audience further will help them engender a level of trust with their audience members. 

Beyond that, there are other side benefits to this. For example, activists and their audiences deserve to have a real communication channel that’s built-in between them. This allows them to get important muckracking information out in a methodical fashion. In many cases, these are scoops and news stories that would otherwise not be published – certainly not by another outlet. Traditional media outlets only have so much space and other constraints to worry about when it  comes to including the important reporting of citizen journalism. 

Living in a digital media environment that allows for this sort of level of information to be transmitted is something that comes with great responsibility. Whereas under normative circumstances it is in fact journalists and traditional media outlets that bear the onus and burden of ensuring that their reporting and usage of their platforms is being done in a professional and responsible manner. Now because of this tidal wave, there’s been a change. We all now bare that responsibility.