ME and Ophelia

Friday, August 06, 2004

- - -

Sudan Journal authored by an American blogging doctor?

Here is another good post by Patrick: he found two news blogs - a Live Journal blog entitled "The undeclared genocide in Darfur, Sudan" - and a blog authored by an American doctor with MSF in the Sudan! Wow Pat. Thanks.

Note to Nick re Sudan Journal. Seems it's authored by a doctor from Medecins Sans Frontieres, presently doing relief work in Kass, Sudan. Is he the friend you spoke of? If so, great. If not, then your friend ought to take up my suggestion and start a blog - even if he has to send you the posts by sat phone!

I've not had time to read it all, but here are a few snippets I've extracted from Sudan Journal:

"The government of Sudan provide free Internet access to anyone who has a phone line."

And get this:

"There was a riot in one of the big IDP camps two days ago. Apparently the GoS was trying to force a group to return to their home against their will. A riot ensued which flattened the UNICEF compound on the day that a couple of good-will embassadors were supposed to visit. Guess they need to work harder on generating that good will."
- - -

Update Friday morning: This morning I received an email from Patrick and replied with a note of thanks for his work on the new blog. I pointed him to my latest post, and sent him a copy of the comment Nick left here last night - and my response - re the Sudan Journal. Here is a copy of the two comments:

-- Hmmm.. My friend is a pediatrician from Boston, and this looks like an epidemiologist from Tucson. Plus, the man's style different, and he left two weeks afterwards. My buddy should be back in three weeks, at which time I will urge him to share some news. The risks we talked about before -- overstepping MSF, compromising operations, alerting the enemy... all still apply. I hope this writer has given this some thought. Nick | Email | Homepage | 08.06.04 - 2:47 am | #

-- So glad you're here to comment Nick, thanks. Somehow, I didn't think it was your friend - even if the ID details were changed. I even wondered how we would know that the author is for real, ie on the ground in Sudan. Seems to me MSF are awfully cautious about remaining a-political: the information given out about the GoS I found surprising but was too tired to comment on last night (note the time of my post) I was up until 2am because it took me ages to complete publishing the post. One would think MSF is in areas where there are no phone lines. How can we ever know if the blog is genuine? Seems the Bella du Jour blog I mentioned was authored by a professional writer - and there's speculation that the author is a man. Whatever, the difference with the Sudan Journal is there are comments and links and stuff....I'd be interested to know if you or anyone else have any clues on this... I am sceptical and need to read the blog more closely today. Bye for now. Ingrid | Email | Homepage | 08.06.04 - 9:44 am | #

A few minutes ago, I received this email from Patrick

Hi Ingrid, First and foremost, my post on the Sudan Journal. I removed it immediately once I read your friend's comment. I hope it hasn't gotten into Google's cache yet.

It really made me pause to think about my responsibilities here. I don't know if happened to have read through the comments on my site, but there a couple of really quite long posts that seemed to support a pro-GoS position. Who knows, maybe it was someone from the Sudanese Embassy.

I just mention this because I really fell like i dropped the ball by posting that right away. I did do a bit of spot checking that seemed to support that MSF was in fact in Kass, but the writer could be doing the very same thing. And even if the story is true, perhaps it isn't wise to publicize it, as your friend mentions. So it's going back on the backburner for now. Best, Pat.

Now, I'm not sure what to do for the best. If I delete my post here, I don't get a chance to warn bloggers not to give it publicity. If I leave the post in but break the link, readers might go searching for the blog, and give it Google juice.

For the moment, until I get some advice, I have decided to leave the post in -- with this update -- and request that bloggers do not give Sudan Journal any links or publicity. Like Patrick says, even if the story is true, perhaps it isn't wise to publicise it. Thanks Nick and Patrick. I have inserted question marks against the title.

So really my question is: should I delete all reference to this story, like it never appeared here? If the blog turns out to be a blogging doctor at MSF, he/she is likely to get into trouble. If the blog is authored by someone looking to discredit MSF or produce propaganda for the government of Sudan, it raises an interesting question: how do we know the authors behind weblogs and websites are who they say they are?

Perhaps the future of blogosphere will consist of millions of small communities of people who, for one reason or another, have enough reason to trust the bloggers they are interacting with online. Weblogs are a great tool for propaganda - memes spread real fast. One things for sure: we need to be over cautious when reading blogs and not take them on face value.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/06/2004
Comments: Post a Comment
0 comments Newer›  ‹Older