Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blogs And Blogging - My Take On It

There has been much written over the weekend about blogs and blogging in general, especially in comparison with the established print media. I have a little piece about why I started blogging to come later, (It was a therapeutic exercise for me to write). But I wanted to have a bit of a say as well on where I see blogs and blogging in general.

So leaving aside the “Why did I start a blog” question, which I am sure literally some, perhaps even a dozen of you would like to know about, let me answer another point that has been raised. The Character of all bloggers seems to be defined by some in the MSM as pretty seedy. The assertion by some is that blogs, and by extension bloggers are somewhat ego-maniacal, and that we are not good enough to be Journalist or Politicians so we sit on the sidelines spreading spurious gossip and murmuring out loud. Well, maybe some bloggers are, but I think the overall assertion has been unfair. They say bloggers claim Guido’s story is being heralded as the rise of the blogosphere in place of the established media.

Well not by me.

The way I see it is that the use of the NotW Guido to break the Smeargate story means this is not some grand transition whereby newspaper subscriptions are cancelled, paperboys rounded up and nationalised as we all switch on to blogs. It was not the Drudge style scoop that the MSM is both projecting and rejecting in the same assertion. The blog itself has not replaced the newspaper. But it is claimed that certain journalists were already aware of the emails and the allegations yet did not break the story themselves, indeed Guido even names Kevin McGuire and asks aloud why he didn’t break the story? Thus, the blogger has outdone the Journalist by breaking the story, albeit, through conventional media.

That’s the point; a blogger and his or her blog are not the same. Nor is a Journalist the same as a newspaper. Certainly Blogs are more personal and are often individual, but in this point scoring exercise it is a draw. Blogger, not Journalist using MSM not blog.

Disagree with this? Fine, put it in the comments field.

What do you do if you disagree with a newspaper? Usually nothing, but maybe go home, write a letter or an email, you won’t know what others have thought because they are not there to tell you but none the less write it, post it, wait a few days to see if it will be published or ignored.
Most blogs are not there to break stories, and write journalistic analysis. If I want to write about a story, I can, and I do not need to go off on a tangent to explain details and back-story, I simple use a hyperlink to the source (which I can’t then misquote). If I want to garner opinion I simply ask question. If I make an assertion, there is a comments field whereby my arguments can be immediately dissected and trashed.

Blogs will not replace the Print media, but they will transform it. Already most of the major publications have some form of blog platform for their writers. The line between Journalist and Blogger is blurring; is Frasier Nelson to you a Journalist or a blogger? Ditto Iain Martin, Melanie Phillips, Daniel Finkelstein, et al. Let me ask further, would you read a blog written by Richard Littlejohn? Matthew Parris? Christopher Booker? [Who I consider to be good writers, who are to my knowledge sans-blog] - Do you seriously think that Young Journalists are being told not to worry about blogging? Of course not, now it is the little Brother to online Journalism, but as we all get more and more online, it is increasingly becoming a more important part of media. There may have been a point when blogging for Journalists was seen as extra work, but I am not sure that is the case anymore.

There is a talent to writing a piece for a blog in a few minutes that will accessible to the entire world at a click of a button. That piece needs to be clear, concise, accurate whilst telling the story and/or expressing the opinion, and in a competitive global age, it needs to be written quickly so as to be on the Internet before the competition. With this there comes disintermediation or at least reduced editorial control from a central Editor. It is a consequence of the technological age. This is the element in which so many in the established media are afraid, it is not just jobs it is that those who previously set an agenda on many topics were the news chiefs, and that is simply no longer the case.

The line between Politician and Blogger also offers a blurred distinction. Is Daniel Hannan a politician or a blogger? How about Doug Carswell? How about Tom Harris? – Again, blogs are allowing people to get closer to politicians and to be heard. This is an enhancement; it is progress in line with technological advances and social demands.

People’s opinions should count, and if people did not want to have their opinions heard, there would be no Speakers Corner, there would be no letters to the editor, and there would be no democracy. Thanks to satellite TV and the Internet people have become more individual in their opinions than they were 10, 25 or 50 years ago. Where there were once maybe 4 or 5 broadsheets, 4 or 5 tabloids, and 4 or 5 news magazines in which a person could choose from before, there are now literally hundreds of thousands of blogs that exist to educate, to inform, to entertain, and all do so allowing the reader to participate, to allow their opinions to be heard. There is nothing scurrilous about it. If I was to draw a parallel with TV, there is more quality programmes on TV today than there was in the 4 channel set-up in 1980’s, it might not feel like it always because you have to wade through so many channels on Satellite to find them.

And that is how I see things going, blogging creep into and enhancing news. We look at politics where blogs are now established, but I think there is a big scope for an explosion in other areas, such as sports (like football, rugby, and golf), TV Programmes, health and lots of areas. The blogs are there, and readership is slowly growing. What people like is the interaction, the choice and the chance to participate and have their views heard.

1 comment:

Blue Eyes said...

Pretty much agree. I think we will see newspapers go back to their traditional "news gathering" role and blogs take over the comment.