How are you today? Tomorrow is Friday and then cometh the weekend, sleeping in longer and drinking your coffee in bed. Unhurried, lazy plans. No pressure. No boss. Everyone loves Thursday.
Mark Weeks to wind down his blogging
Blogger Mark Weeks needs no introduction to my readers. Active since 1997, Mark’s style of blogging has been a role model for several generations of wanna-be bloggers. Disciplined, organized, non-controversial. Always to the point, and backing them up with references and sources. The online chess community is richer because of his blogging.
Mark will be winding down his blogging in the next few months. He clarified his full intentions in yesterday’s blog article ‘The End of Daily Blogging‘. Fortunately, Mark will keep his blogs online. I often help myself to his well researched material for my own journalistic work.
Chess Journalism & Big Brother
The online journalistic chess community has numerous shortcomings, but perhaps the lack of objective and informed reporting stands out as its Achilles heel.
One would naturally have expected that the most popular english language sites (Chess.Com, ChessBase, Chess24, ChessDom, Susan Polgar’s Blog and one or two others) fill this void and be a more reliable source of information than others, but sadly bias and partisanship too often colours what passes as news on these sites.
We can especially see this during FIDE presidential elections. In 2018, for example, the ruling Makropolous & Gang were given favourable treatment and virtually all criticism of them went unreported and/or was silenced.
Even after Kirsan dropped out of the race and Dvorkovich appeared in his place, not a single of the above mentioned sites objected when Makropoulos desperately tried to use the Ethics Committee to steal the election.
Of course, that such abuse of power happens during elections – ANY ELECTION – is not surprising to anybody, but the online chess community stands out from the rest of the world for its selective silence when such abuses do take place.
When Dvorkovich was elected FIDE president last October, we all thought that a major shift towards increased transparency and accountability was in the making, and that some of this ‘glastnost‘ would trickle down onto the web. But we were very quickly disappointed.
Amongst Dvorkovich’s first moves, he eliminated the Journalists Commission (perhaps not such a bad decision in itself, but a sad omen for what then followed): no journalists or outsiders were to be allowed to attend the Presidential Meetings; all FIDE officials were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. And so on…Is this increasing transparency?
Today the FIDE leadership operates with the least visibility than at any other time in its history. Press releases are few and far between, and deliberately uninformative.
The FIDE social media sites (FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram) do not allow for any meaningful discussion. Deliberately. Elsewhere, online criticism of FIDE has almost entirely disappeared.
A recent example of how FIDE controls the news
Australian born Ian Rogers is one of the few independent journalists in the chess world. He is not aligned/partnered to any of the popular chess websites mentioned above, and even less to FIDE. Ian’s reporting is respected for its objectivity and accuracy.
On September 15 Ian published an article for LICHESS covering a dramatic September 9 players meeting at the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. What is remarkable about this meeting is that FIDE surprised all of the players (who had previously signed a contract for this tournament) introducing several new and very controversial rules that would come into IMMEDIATE effect.
According to Ian, the players were ‘palpably annoyed‘ and every attempt to discuss the new draconian regulations with the chief tournament arbiter were callously closed down with something similar to the abrupt ‘These are the FIDE rules. End of discussion‘.
What is especially significant about this latest episode involving important FIDE decisions is that had Ian Rogers not written about these controversial developments then the chess world would have never known! The news had been, effectively, blacked out.
None of the principal chess websites mentioned above had even mentioned what had happened at the players meeting. The reaction, by many in the chess world about the new rules, has been very negative:
This episode raises the question about the future of online journalism in the chess world. If we can not expect reliable information and unbiased reporting, then what have we come to?
Clearly the most popular chess websites are, to some degree, in collusion with the powers that be, even going so far as to not report important information that might somehow be considered ‘critical’ of FIDE’s behaviour, or casting FIDE’s leadership in a less than favourable light.
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