06 July 2006

Blogging and the Mainstream Media

The current furore surrounding the Prescott affair(es) has some important repercussions for new media, the blogosphere, and what has been called 'citizen journalism'. The latest claims about Prescott's multiple cars, homes, and mistresses were made by political bloggers - notably Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Indeed, they are still being made now, hot from the keyboard, as I write this. These people are doing the work which used to be the exclusive province of newspapers and the broadcast media. But as Dan Gilmour has argued in We the Media: grassroots journalism for the people, by the people the democratising forces within information technology have put powerful tools into the hands of ordinary people. Guido and Iain aren't exactly ordinary - they are both very well informed and well-connected - but as ordinary citizens they have the right to post their opinions and any items of gossip or research onto their personal blogs.

Some journalists working within the mainstream media now feel their positions threatened, as anyone with a fresh piece of news can scoop them - certainly by twenty-four hours in the case of print journalists. In fact often by much more, as MSM journalists claim that they have their hands tied, with legal departments breathing down their neck to substantiate any claims they might make. But as Iain Dale argued when challenged by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight last night (in a section which was edited out of the broadcast program) "The difference between you and me Jeremy, is that if you get sued the BBC picks up the bill, if I get sued, I pick up the bill."

I watched that broadcast, and it seemed to me to epitomise the manner in which the MSM journalists are obviously feeling the heat from social bloggers. And naturally Prescott is feeling the heat too - because he has joined in the debate by claiming that bloggers are running a dirty tricks conspiracy on an anti-Labour ticket. This is not true - for two reasons. The first is that they post gossip and criticism of the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems as well. They simply set out to expose hypocrisy, corruption, and political dirty-dealings. The second reason is that they simply make claims and ask questions which Prescott and his ilk fail to answer.

1 comment:

Iain Dale said...

excellent analysis.