Who’s responsible for Volkskrant-blogs?

On: September 28, 2006
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About Jeff van Schie
Founder and managing director of Fix Nieuwe Media BV. Became an official Master of New Media in Octobre 2007.


Thom Meens, “ombudsman” (some kind of public relations person any… Any suggestions for translation?) for the Volkskrant is not satisfied with the current structure of the Volkskrant (a newspaper) blogservice. A member of a pro-pedophaelia political party had a blog on Volkskrant blogs for months and, understandably, they weren’t very happy when they found out. To what extend can Volkskrant be held accountable for publications of the bloggers on their service? Thom Meens wants to have some sort of blog control mechanism. Is this in conflict with an important aspect of public blogging, namely the freedom of the blogger to post what he or she wants? Can a newspaper blogservice ever be a place for free, independent expression?

Read the whole article here (in dutch)

7 Responses to “Who’s responsible for Volkskrant-blogs?”
  • September 28, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    I think ombudsman is actually an English word so :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman

    To me a blog by the Volkskrant should be run by journalists from the same newspaper. This sounds kinda ‘old media-ish’, but what is wrong with some professional writing? I do think the Volkskrant is accountable for the blogs they run, it’s a companyblog and states the opinions and also the reputation of the newspaper.

  • September 29, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    It’s a service they offer Twan, not their own blog. So people, just anyone, can start a blog with this service from Volkskrant and therefore it does not show the opinion of the newspaper, it shows the opinion of the person who writes the blogs….

    Then, the discussion whether companies that offer a service to the “people” are responsible and legally accountable for the content of their service, is an old discussion.

    I think volkskrant cannot be held responsible, because the KPN cannot be responsible for the telephone calls of its clients and Hotmal cannot be held accountable for the content of the email messages that are being send through their mailing service. Thus, volkskrant cannot be held accountable for the content of blogs. However, I do feel Volkskrant should make rules that will allow them to remove blogs that cross certain lines of what most people would consider acceptable.

    BTW: as Albert Benschop mentions on his sociosite, people do not have freedom of speech to say what the want.
    (sorry it’s in Dutch)

    “Weblogs zijn publieke aangelegenheden, of bewegen zich minstens op het grensgebied tussen publieke en particuliere sfeer. De auteurs of redacteuren van weblogs zijn daarom publiekelijk verantwoordelijk voor wat er op de website wordt gepubliceerd. Webloggers die in de openbaarheid van het internet personen of groepen beledigen of belasteren kunnen daarop niet alleen moreel maar ook juridisch worden aangesproken.”

    Benschop states here that blogs are public, so when you publish something on your blog, you can be held accountable and legal steps can be undertaken against you.

    So: Volkskrant cannot be held accountable, but they should monitore the content of the blogs on their server and delete these blogs if they can be considered illegal, of ill taste, offensive, or discriminating, etc.

    And bloggers themselves should realise that when they publish something on their blog they can prosecuded or sewed for this content.

  • September 29, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    I think it’s quite odd that Volkskrant offers a blogging service, because anything that will appear on those blogs seems to represent Volkskrant’s opinion. The first time I encountered these blogs on the Volkskrant website I was quite amazed. I expected blogs run by Volkskrant’s own editors and not by “random” people. I agree with Twan and furthermore I think Volkskrant should discontinue their service if they don’t want to be hold accountable for writings of “their” bloggers. I don’t think there is an endangerment of freedom of speech here, since anyone can run a blog on a free blogging service.

  • September 29, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    I don’t think you can compare the Volkskrant blog service to a KPN telephone line or Hotmail account. KPN telephone and Hotmail are just services, they don’t produce content. Volkskrant can’t produce both written content and a writer’s platform and not expect people to connect the two. I think they should make a strict set of rules so the blogs will display the kind of content and style Volkskrant wants to display. Bloggers who blog on Volkskrant should realise that by doing this they aren’t writing a normal blog, but a blog with Volkskrant written all over it.

  • September 30, 2006 at 8:59 am

    Well, I do agree with you that volkskrant shouls make it more obvious that they are offering a service and that the blogs have nothing to do with the newspaper.

  • October 1, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    @Anne: “I think it’s quite odd that Volkskrant offers a blogging service, because anything that will appear on those blogs seems to represent Volkskrant’s opinion.”

    True, it’s actually kinda what I meant in my first post. I did know that they offer their own blogging service, but if you attach your company name to a product it is seen as equal to that. Even if they’d run a blogging service which would say that it distances itself from the views of the bloggers, you’d still have the Volkskrant name attached to it.

  • October 2, 2006 at 12:42 am

    To my surprise one does not have to be subscribed to the Volkskrant in order to start a weblog. In this sense the service does not differ much from services alike, such as WordPress, Technorati or LiveJournal. With these providers the role of a moderator is to a large extend nonexistent. I therefore would have to agree with Helleen who believes in a freedom of publishing without the fear of moderation.

    Yet it surprises me. I do believe the Volkskrant affiliates their name, tradition and ideology with the opinions discussed under their brand. To what extend does the weblog structure differ from that of the ‘ingezonden brief’ (letter from the reader) page? In the latter a moderator plays an important role. He or she filters spam and unnecessary writings from important and interesting. The moderator also corrects spelling and grammatical errors. Why does the Volkskrant choose to provide an unfiltered, un-moderated and unedited web structure to publish reader’s opinions?

    I recon it all comes down to an attempt in increasing their reader market and therewith customers who will pay for text on paper. People that choose to express their opinions on a Volkskrant based weblog want to be affiliated with the Volkskrant, allready think like the Volkskrant and will buy a Volkskrant next time they have to take the train. The Volkskrant is right to profit from the popularity in the blogosphere, and in my opinion is not responsible for blogged expressions from their readers. It is not the Volkskrant who choose their bloggers, it is them that choose the Volkskrant.

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