Blogging vs Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk is a journalist whose insights, particularly into Middle Eastern Affairs, I read with interest, however, his disdain for the Internet and Bloggers in particular, is well known. So a recent article in which he criticises the press for self-censorship and blames it for the reason people are increasingly turning to the Internet and Bloggers for their news and opinion fix was a bit of a surprise. But its Fisk's loathing of the Internet I want to focus on in this piece.
Fisk is characteristically scathing of the Internet; with his typical gusto he describes how he "despises the internet". And calls it an "irresponsible and, often, a net of hate". Then emphatically declares how he doesn’t "have time for Blogopops".
I guess that empathically rules out any potential endorsement of this article.
To a certain extent Fisk is correct, Internet News Sites and much of the blogosphere are little more than poorly researched information, or regurgitated commentary laced with a healthy dose rabble rousing opinion. Though this is nothing that the Tabloid Press are not themselves guilty of.
In fact Robert Fisk himself has admitted to abandoning journalistic impartiality in favour of a doctrine where by he believes he is "morally bound as a journalist to show eloquent compassion to victims."
His comments relate to reporting wars and genocide, however, the principal seems equally applied to all his work where there is a moral judgement to be made. So it’s not without some irony that I note how Mr Fisk has defined the style of the blogosphere which he hates so much.
Blogging is about opinions, it is about standing up for what you believe in and it is about starting a new kind of dialogue between individuals, the media and government. The mainstream media hate it, because for years through the monopolisation of TV, radio and the press they have controlled and warped opinion throughout the democratic world. Now they have a competitor which they cannot control. Worst still the "citizen journalist" has, thanks to sites like YouTube discovered how to broadcast their opinion in video, not just in the written word.
All of this represents a very serious threat to the media’s ability to control the public agenda. It weakens their position.
Their main selling point (as they see it) is their “professional impartiality”, something which is sadly missing in the judgemental Tabloids and in many anchored news programs like The Right with Trevor McDonald.
Given time blogging will come of age. It's still in infancy and over the coming years Bloggers will get more professional. They will aspire to the same professional standards that many journalists used live up to and we will see a shifting in the balance of media power towards the individual.
Of course the blogosphere will never be without the ill informed, the lazy and the under-researched, there will always be bad Bloggers (to be honest I don't see myself as a particularly "good" one.) Though equally there will always be bad journalists, biased editors and corporate agendas.
What blogging gives us is a new found ability to talk back. To counter the mainstream views of the day and to express opinions that otherwise would not be heard. Blogging broadens the political landscape and spits in the face of politicians who seek to narrow it to the ubiquitous “centre ground”. It offers an opportunity for ordinary citizens to speak out against the rabble rousing tabloids and it gives power back to the people rather than corporate monopolies which currently control the media and with it much of the political agenda.
This is why blogging matters. Blogging is crucial for the survival of real democracy, because without it the political agenda gets set by the media elite, the party donors and the politicians who seek to appease them.
I only hope that one day Robert Fisk manages to get over his own sense of self-importance and realise this.
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