Why are bloggers suddenly on the defensive?

Why are bloggers suddenly on the defensive?

Is the mainstream media trying to hit back?

Suddenly I’m getting calls from all over the place from journalists and academics who are looking at blogging.

Maybe it’s because of the harsh economic climate in which the press is now having to operate but there certainly seems to be an effort to disparage this part of the new media and I just worry about possible moves to impede us.

Even that weighty publication, the Financial Times has tried to put the boot with a main editorial quoted by CONHome which said amongst other things: “..Readers can, if they so wish, live within a bubble where they are presented only with streams of evidence that support their prejudices. This is a particular problem in political blogging, where the effects of this tendency are intensified by writers’ habit of linking mainly to like-minded sites…”

All this has caused CONHome’s Tim Montgomerie to go on the defensive with a well argued post headed “Seven defences of political blogging”. These were:

1. “It’s true that some people who use the internet only read blogs/ sites that reinforce their views but I now read The Guardian, Independent, FT and a whole range of left-wing new media when in the pre-internet age I only really read one or two (right-of-centre) newspapers each day.

2. All opinions are represented in the blogosphere. All barriers to entry have been blown away…. Power has been transferred from a small Westminster class to ‘a wiser crowd’ and the transfer has only just begun (and will accelerate as the mainstream media retreats behind payment walls).

3. The mainstream media is held to account. This is one of the blogosphere’s most important functions. Shoddy or biased journalism is now exposed instantly. Cosy relations between certain journalists and titles meant a lack of scrutiny between old media organs. Pre-blogosphere people had to wait days in the hope that their letter might be published in a newspaper that had misled or misrepresented. The right to reply was often never given and very often never in full. Fisking is one of the blogosphere’s great innovations.

4. Blogs also hold other blogs to account. It’s true that a lot of blogs write a lot of rubbish but plenty of other bloggers exist to point this out whenever it happens.

5. Not all blogs are same. Yes, some are tribal and deceitful. Some newspapers can also be described in those terms. Blogs are at least as different from each other as the FT is from the Daily Star…

6. Blogs are often more specialist and, in a good way, more obsessive than anything in the mainstream media. PoliticalBetting and UKPollingReport on polling, Defence of the Realm on military issues, John Redwood on economic policy and Burning Our Money on government waste are stand out examples of this.

7. The blogosphere is often attacked for passing instant judgment but it also can debate topics for longer and in more detail than any traditional newspaper… “

Well said Tim.

Remember the biggest mover of opinion polls this year has not been the mainstream media, even including the Telegraph’s MPs expenses exposes, but the actions of a blogger, Paul Staines, over the “Smeargate” allegations.

Mike Smithson

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