May 2006


The art of blog07 May 2006 10:34 pm

Happy new beginnings to Red, who will be missed.

If you were a reader of Red’s excellent blog, you will understand why its closure is a melancholy moment. But all good things must come to an end. Blogworld’s loss is the real world’s gain.

Red, thanks for all your pithy posts and thoughtful comments. And thanks also for sharing your sharp insights on more personal matters. You remain Blogworld’s Most Perceptive Citizen, no contest. Consider yourself garlanded.

Consider yourself emailed as well, but I promise not to stalk you further. My Asbo’s terms are fairly specific about that sort of thing, you’ll be pleased to hear.*

I would finish this post with something about Tony Blair, but I’m honestly at a loss as to how to begin. Where is there left to go when satire has been superseded by reality? The Urban Fox Den may be in the process of eating itself.

Next post: The Hollyoaks cast’s top 10 vodka cocktails. Possibly.

* Oh dear, now I’m wheeling out the tired old Asbo jokes… This blog is officially knitted. Feel free to remove me from your sidebars, people, it’s going downhill all the way.

News media03 May 2006 10:54 pm

NewspaperThe mainstream media are still whipping themselves into a froth about bloggers.

In an article titled Media holds its own in trust poll, the BBC interprets the answers given to a preposterously-worded survey of the type mentioned in the post below.

Unsurprisingly, the article only reaches conclusions which suit its host website’s purposes. In fact, a whopping 39% of voters replied that they do not trust the big media. That statistic, naturally, is glossed over.

“More people around the world trust the media than trust their governments”, the article cries. And: “Overall levels of trust in the media have risen in the past four years, the poll suggests.”

Weirdly: “In the US, 67% said they trusted the government compared with 59% prepared to put their trust in the media.” Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I suppose… But I’m getting off the point. (Bloggers and their digressions, eh? In my day a journalist had discipline. You had 200 words and 10 minutes to write them, and god help you if… etc)

Here are the slippery words the BBC writes about blogs:

“Blogs are among the online sources that people are consulting, although few place ultimate trust in their content: 25% said they trusted blogs, with almost the same number (23%) distrusting them.”

In other words, only 23% of people say they don’t trust blogs at all compared with 25% who definitely do. Presumably this means that the remaining 52% said they always did, usually did, sometimes did, or don’t read blogs at all. In other words, it’s possible that the majority of people who regularly read blogs said they find their chosen sources credible. You’d be forgiven for reading the emphasis the other way round, as that is clearly the intention behind this eely use of language.

Finally, the BBC insists: “The most trusted media outlets around the world were large global news organisations such as the BBC or CNN.”

Elsewhere, the BBC’s own WeMedia blog adds quotes from Helen Boaden warning of the much-mentioned blog subjectivity problem: “Witness accounts do not necessary give you an objective factual picture. They give you the truth as I see it,” she said. … “The role of journalism is to sift facts and give you a truthful and factual picture.” So there is such a thing as objectivity after all, and it comes bundled with your press card? Please. A child could dismantle this nonsense.

At last, the bottom line: “What many in the news business want to hear is how to make money from this brave new world of blogs, podcasts and citizen journalism.” Well, hold the front page. Oh wait, you already did.

You see, an enormous fuss is being made about “citizen journalism” by the mainstream media lately. We understand why this is: large corporations stand to lose advertising revenue if they lose readers/viewers/consumers. The BBC stands to lose its charter if it loses audience share. Corporations are noticing a downward slide already. This makes shareholders and moguls unhappy. Boo hoo.

So the large media outlets decide to channel their collective energy into an imaginary ‘bloggers vs mainstream journalists’ duel. Such editorial directives come from the very top, from managing directors and proprietors rather than journalists. A journalist can only ever dance to the beat of the paymaster’s drum. Of course, this is one of the ways in which DIY publishers have the edge over professionals.

Et voila: the mainstream media dedicate whole columns to a hollow “objectivity” debate, making sure they never once mention the impossibility of any multinational corporation being objective. They drop snide comments about the “mess” and “credibility issues” of self-published journalism, even in articles about unconnected subjects. They devote vast amounts of time and money trying to work out how best to exploit this tide, and how to avoid being dragged under by it. Look out for it and you’ll be astonished how often the subject of blogs is mentioned.

What all this means is simple. They are really, really worried.

Enjoy your anti-corporate power, “citizen journalists”. It’s time the moneymakers stopped shaping our realities to suit their minority interests. We musn’t let them buy their way out of this one.


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