Fourth and fifth estates

James spotted this interesting article from the Observer on the LA Times Wikitorial incident: Internet’s new wave proves hard to catch. I liked this observation about mainstream media’s relationship with bloggers:

The fourth estate likes to think of itself as maverick. It is the gadfly that exists to prick the vanities of power. This mythology of journalism does not have room for a fifth estate that is more maverick and exists to prick the vanities of the media.

4 thoughts on “Fourth and fifth estates

  1. Jack Yan

    ‘God said unto Isaiah, “Isaiah come forth.” And Isaiah came fifth.’—Benny Hill

    As a member of the fourth estate, I am not sure if blogging can be considered the fifth. It’s an extension of the fourth, the democratization of the media, where everyone can be a journalist disseminating editorial, reports and—just like journalism—lies.
       But there is a mythology all right. For the most part, the media are not maverick. The media are institutionalizing structures, making sure that the status quo can be maintained through which they can make money, pretending to wish to shift it.
       Being aware of this, I shift it genuinely where I can, but I don’t think bloggers are any worse or any better at this than some of us in the media.
       Is there room for bloggers? Certainly. It merely forces the “other media”, including internet publishers, to up their game. We have to use what advantages we have. And we should learn the lessons of the best bloggers. Sadly, however, the real bloggers—those who aren’t merely writing dull, public diaries or those who aren’t misrepresenting fiction as truth—are few and far between.

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Always good to hear from NZ’s authority on Benny Hill.

    The distinction between journalism and blogging is grey becuase there are many sorts of journalism and even more varieties of blog. And not everyone has the same idea of what a “real” blog is! And a blog that is dull to almost all of us may be jolly interesting for a significant few. (Famous to 15 people not famous for 15 minutes, as someone put it)

  3. Jack Yan

    The dull ones, as I see it, are those written by the ‘Look at me! Look at me! I’m so insecure!’ crowd. Plenty of those in fashion, which seems to attract them. And the good ones are those like this site, which doesn’t shout for attention, but provides good, solid reasons on how the world can change. Patti Digh’s one is another. However, sites involving scandal are always popular: I refer to the infamous Washingtonienne, which I can’t fit anywhere. Maybe that is not journalism, just an open letter.


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