Wednesday, 15 April 2009

The McBride Impact on Bloggers

The controversy over Labour Aide Damien McBride's plans to publish unfounded allegations about senior Tories has opened up a wider debate on the role of bloggers and the collective influence that the blogosphere may or may not have.

Some quarters of the press seem almost to have taken offence that the story was broken by a blogger with Iain MacWhirter of The Herald launching a tirade on bloggers which has been much commented on. Stephen Pollard, writing for The Times is also critical, albeit more measured.

In contrast, some bloggers have been a tad more celebratory in their comments, but it should be obvious by now that there doesn't need to be a dichotomy between the mainstream media and the bloggers who choose to comment on current affairs. It is naive of UK journalists to try and pigeon-hole bloggers as nerds and extremists given the scale of some of the stories broken on blogs in the US, the most famous one being the story of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky.

But perhaps even this view is too simplistic. It has been argued that the blogosphere can act as something of a 'conscience', forcing the media back to a story that although they did publish briefly, they initially did not deem it important enough to give it any prominence until forced to do so by the online community.

The case most cited for this is when a Mississippi Senator stated in 2002 at a birthday party "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either."

Thurmond had been a presidential nominee in 1948, standing on a Dixiecrat ticket whose manifesto in part declared "We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race."

You can read an interesting analysis of how the story unfolded here.

I also find it mildly ironic that mainstream journalists should be so critical of blog authors given the media has been trying to establish a serious online presence (with varying degrees of success) for some years now.

Whatever any ones view is of blogging, it's clearly here to stay and vitriolic outbursts by journalists will not change that.

1 comment:

Fox In Detox said...

Screw McBride.. I want to hear about the recent health scare incident involving one Jim Millar and an impromptu trip to l'ospedale.