And today’s media whore award goes to…

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..the Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, who doesn’t bother with the usual tricks for inflating her blog stats. No, Yoani goes straight to Reuters, who is glad to put out a blast fax on her behalf, which is then picked up by scores of reporters too lazy to check the facts.

The Censored Cuban Blog

Pascual Serrano – Rebelión

Yesterday if one were to google “Yoani Sánchez” within Google’s “News in Spanish,” approximately 40 media reports would have appeared stating that this Cuban woman’s blog had been blocked by authorities in that country. (Cuba Censors One of its Main Blogs the Same Day it Approves Computer Sales, News Hurts, Bloggers Denounce Havana Blocking Access to Their Sites From Within Cuba, Cuba Blocks Access to the Most Read Cuban Blog, Cuba Blocks Access to One of its Most Read Blogs Because of its Criticism of Raul Castro etc..)

The news is practically identical in all media and it appears to have originated with a Reuters wire-service story. The peculiar thing is that it is limited to reiterating the allegations of this particular Cuban woman who “said that Cubans can no longer visit her website nor that of other bloggers born in the country who have their websites hosted on a server in Germany. All they can see is an error message.” Another thing that caught my attention is how, if the Cubans are continually being denounced for not allowing Internet access, the government could have an interest in blocking a blog that supposedly is not accessible? Whatever, the most reasonable response at the time of the report would have been to find out if the blog had really been blocked by the Cubans, something that apparently none of the various media who distributed the denunciation bothered to do. They do not mention trying to connect, nor from where, and the news text was limited to copying the Reuters story, which was nothing more than Yoani Sánchez’s allegation.

I don’t know if it was blocked at some point. Yesterday, Tuesday, at 10 p.m. Spanish time I asked various Cuban friends to try it and let me know what they found. From one Ministry, I was told that the blog could be reached; a private house in the Vedado neighborhood with a Press Center connection also reached it without problem, from another home in Old Havana served by a state connection through the public Enet enterprise the same, via two computers with different connections. Only one of my friends, from another ministry told me that he couldn’t, but without the error message claimed by the blog’s author at her site. I note also that the BBC interviewed this woman on Monday, March 24th, ending with the question, “Have you had any personal problems because of this?” She responded, “No, no-one has visited me, no-one has come to tell me that what I’m doing is forbidden and as far as I’m concerned if I’m not told something is expressly forbidden, it’s legal. I don’t think about censoring myself.”

One can only arrive at the conclusion that this strange form of censorship is intermittent and it’s a sad bit of journalism when no-one can be bothered to check and see if the blog was indeed censored. Certainly, a month ago the server for my blog also went down, but it did not occur to me to denounce the Zapatero government and thereby enjoy being the center of attention for 40 media news outlets.

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