Guest Post - Tapestry on Bloggers vs "real" journalists

A lot of bloggers got a bit upset about this:

Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK - the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night. (Andrew Marr)

Me? I was mildly upset too and so was Tapestry, one of the long-serving and credible regulars in my orbit. Also germane to the issue:

Tapestry writes:

It seems like bloggers keep moving ahead, and are getting yet more confident while the main stream media are unsure how to move to catch up.  In fact they can't.

They have lived in a world where they themselves were almost invisible, where the powerful decided what was and wasn't true, and as long as they behaved and didn't challenge what they were given, they were kept on as trusted courtiers with privileged access to big events.

Bloggers are on completely the opposite basis.  They say what makes sense to them , or doesn't make sense, regardless of the wishes of the powerful.  They have no desire to become courtiers or have privileged access.

The MSM does not want to acknowledge that audience feedback via blogs has cut away their privileged position.  Yet that is what is happening.

Perfect cultured images such as that of Blair, once protected and nurtured by every MSM courtier in the land, at least any of those who desired promotion, can now be smashed to pieces just for kicks by Guido to a similar delight and to the cheers that once attended the public dismembering of the French aristocracy.  Untruth or corruptness, previously carefully disguised or defended, can now instantly send a political career reeling off the edge of an increasingly precarious cliff.

The MSM are left standing, clinging like limpets to the  traditionally powerful, and yet unable to stop the power of exposure and open discussion in blogs from daily eroding ever bigger chunks of cliff face.  The power that Blair could exercise in 2003, sending the country to war against the opinion of his own party, against public opinion and against the advice of his own intelligence experts, could never have held sway without the assured sycophancy of the MSM.

The Blair/Campbell level of totalitarian media control is now dead, not because the MSM is no longer willing to continue with the corruption of their role as it was at its lowpoint under Blair in 2003, but because the instant feedback of the blogosphere now enables ordinary people to connect to the truth another way, without even bothering to refer to the previous assumed cultural lines of authority, which were, prior to the blogosphere, firstly our elected representatives, who we no longer trust, and secondly their media associates and stooges, who propped them up regardless of what they did or said.

Once known as the fourth estate, the MSM are becoming as moribund as the horse drawn plough when the diesel engine arrived in the countryside, or the cavalry after the invention of the tank and the machine gun.  From being at the very pinnacle and assumed to carry an authority equivalent to that of once respected government representatives, overnight they have lost all respect and value and have literally nowhere to go, except down.

They are as despised as the elected representatives whose bidding they have slavishly carried out, all the while that our country has wrecked itself in useless unjustifiable unwinnable wars, and while our economy is wrecked with massive unjustifiable debts, to which they didn't even say boo for over a decade.

Blogs give people hope and carry the authority that once pertained to such institutions as The Times or The Telegraph of the BBC.  The change has been so fast that few have taken on board what is happening.

Blogs are trusted.  Newspapers and TV are not.   People only want to read and watch where they trust the source.  That is now the MSM's problem.  How can they match the growing trust that people have in blogs and other internet based communication channels?  It's a fundamental problem with no easy solution.  How will the powerful close the gap and try to recapture their previous trusted status?  It took hundreds of years to achieve, but Blair and Campbell burned it all in about five short years.

Maybe in the approach taken by Iain Duncan Smith you can see a politician who instinctively knows that trust is the basis of all communication, and also with Michael Gove.  They are not slick but you can see they believe what they are saying.

Too many others still admire the Blair/Campbell methods, which win short term by looking and sounding good, but long term sacrifice the basis of all good human relationships - trust.  The MSM has to rush headlong to a format of trusted communication, if it is to survive the current communications revolution.  They have to first look into their own souls, before they open their mouths, and decide which kind of communicator they are.  People can smell phoney with ease now, where ten years ago, they still automatically trusted any public communication.

Each communicator has to decide - am I a phoney, or  do I speak only from my heart as of now?  That will be the test of success from hereon.  Professional detachment is not enough.  Only communicate what you personally believe.  That requires a revelation of what's inside, not just a polished and stylish veneer.  That is the only acceptable standard for an audience that is sick of being taken for granted, and which now delights in seeing heads being lopped off by the modern equivalent of the guillotine, the blog.  People are rightly angry at having been sold a false set of non-existent values by Blair and Campbell, aided and abetted by a a supine media.  There is only one way all this can go.

(re-posted by kind permission of the author )


Richard said...

An excellent analysis of the situation, and one that deserves a wide audience, so a good move to present it here.

However, your policy of no longer relpying to comments means that commenting here is a bit like speaking in an empty room. I still read everything that is written on this blog, but the urge to write comments is curtailed somewhat. Your blog, your rules; but if people aren't responding, that's why, I think.

Dave said...

Well written and I wholeheartedly agree with every word.

jim said...

Good analysis.
By the way I don't mind if WW doesn't respond to comments. As long as he keeps blogging I'm happy. Better having half of a good thing rather than nothing. So keep quiet WW as long as you want but keep posting :)

Richard said...

I'm happy that he's blogging. As I said, I read every post. I was just saying that the policy makes me feel less like banging in a comment than I used to when there was more interaction.