The Sock Diary

Musings of a part-time Sweaty Sock.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Andrew Marr reckons we need Journalists

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Tales from the coffee shop
'The arrival of a coffee house culture, where party politics, Whigs against Tories, began to be played out, marks the real start of informed public opinion. And for public opinion there must be journalists too,' [Andrew Marr] writes.


Hold the phone. A statement of part fact disguised as flat fact. I really hope the next line in his book qualified that statement, but having heard Mr Marr's avoidance and dismissal of troublesome news on the Beeb recently, I doubt it.

I reckon he might have been nearly right about 10 years ago, before Dave Winer et al started blogging and before the net became ubiquitous. They started publishing themselves precisely because journalists kept getting it wrong, used sophistry and obfuscation, and/or were not reporting all the facts for whatever reasons (maybe not wanting to offend advertisers which support all the main newspapers... advertisers == corporates?).

Since services such as blogger came online (1999), offering blogging for all, anyone that maintains that journalists are the purveyors of "informed public opinion", with no qualification, or mention of the net, is remiss. Bulletin boards, newsgroups, community fora, email groups, etc have all played a part in knowledge dissemination and opinion forming since about 1985 (maybe earlier as I'm only young(ish) really and I can't remember). Blogging, coupled with RSS and a decent aggregator (try bloglines, very good) have really brought the ability to create your own newspaper and your news without those pesky skewed journalists to the fore in the last couple of years.

I'm ranting, but you get the idea. Journalists are no longer the guardians of public opinion and messengers of public outrage. We can do it ourselves now. Get your news from as many sources as you can, and form your opinions. "Unbiased" journalists are full of it. Be honest. Outline your influences. Press publish. Prepare to be flamed. Job done.

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