Top blogger Cameron Slater (Whaleoil) posted this blog from Daniel Hannan of the UK’s Daily Telegraph over the weekend. As Slater says it “explores and explains the sometimes unhappy relationship between traditional media and blogs”.
Here are some extracts from Hannan and my take on them, especially in relation to our local media here on Waiheke.
When a dozen dead tree newspapers determined the agenda, the media’s chief power lay in not reporting a story – not through conspiracy, but from shared assumptions about what constituted news. Take the leak of the “hide the decline” emails from climatologists at the University of East Anglia in late 2009. At first, the astonishing trove was reported only by bloggers. It wasn’t that environment correspondents were meeting behind drawn blinds and vowing to repress the discovery; it was that, being uncomplicated believers in the AGW orthodoxy, they couldn’t see why the emails were a story. Only when repeatedly needled by online commentators were they were eventually forced to report perhaps the biggest event in its field of the century.
My example would be the coverage of the last local body election. The Waiheke Marketplace decided to use its media power by NOT covering the election. This was, in all probability, every bit as powerful as the Gulf News overt position in favour of the Green Party agenda of the Essentially Waiheke team.
The lack of other credible media meant a very one sided story was presented to the public. You all know what happened next.
I was left wondering what to do with all the knowledge I’d gained in local politics and what to do about the one sided nature of our local media.
Blogging was to way forward. After all Gulf News is little more than a weekly blog for Liz Waters and words fail me to try and describe what the Marketplace has become.
The separate categorisation of columnists, reporters, bloggers and interested readers is becoming meaningless. Every citizen is now a potential journalist. News and opinion are a conversation. We still hear occasional complaints from Leftie pundits that online media “lack quality control”. In fact, the dialectic element of blogging ensures a higher standard of accuracy than before. Mistakes are ruthlessly exposed and, because of the sheer number of outlets, a plausible new theory can spread with previously unimagined speed.
I contend blogging is a more honest form of media. Newspapers are, not matter what they say, constrained by advertisers. They feign balance but, in reality, reflect the views of their owners. Blogging is unashamed. Disclosure of what that means for me can be found on this site. My blogs reflect my views, it’s that simple. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, that’s the way it is. If you don’t like what I write don’t read my blogs.
Democracy thrives because of bloggers.