A top executive at CNN has been forced to resign as a result of pressure from campaigning bloggers. Has the new media now become more powerful than the old, asks Gary Younge
On forumblog.org, the World Economic Forum web log, there is a link to a site called Ohmynews, “where every citizen is a reporter”. Rony Abovitz is one of those citizens. The 34-year-old co-founder of Z-KAT, a medical technology company from Holywood, Florida had never written a story in the mainstream press when Forumblog asked him to write his first ever blog – an online diary – from Davos, Switzerland.
Yet a story he posted online two weeks ago has claimed one of the most senior scalps in US journalism, prompting praise from rightwing bloggers and sparking a debate about the power of the blogosphere over the mainstream media.
Abovitz attended an off-the-record panel in Davos on January 28, addressed by, among others, CNN’s chief news executive Eason Jordan that was filmed. During the discussion, Jordan reportedly claimed that he knew of 12 journalists in Iraq whom the US military had deliberately targeted and killed. The Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, who was also on the panel, asked him if CNN had reported this. Jordan said no. Abovitz asked him if he had any objective and clear evidence to back up these claims, because “if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park”. Jordan appeared to backtrack. The debate continued and then moved on.
Left to the mainstream media, also in attendance, the story would have ended there. Abovitz told the New York Times that he asked some of the journalists if they planned to write about it and they said no, the discussion was off the record. But Abovitz surmised that the journalists were also eager to “protect their own”, so he took matters into his own hands, posting a write-up of the conference at 2:21am local time with the headline: “Do US Troops target journalists in Iraq?”