“It’s like someone in the 1400s complaining about the printing press..”

An apt description of John Waters line, whilst getting ‘creamed’ by Fergal Crehan on Newstalk. In fact, John’s line of argument shows precisely how out of touch he (and the Irish media mainstream) is.

Personally, I’ve been round the block on this one on the BBC recently (complete with reference to Guttenburg’s genius invention circa 1440).

Waters’ most interesting line is from Robert Bly’s book The Sibling Society: ie that we have shifted from a vertical discourse to a horizontal one.

What John fails to recognise is that authority has not disappeared, but rather has become rather more protean than heretofore. In this case, since he clearly knows so little about the subject, his conversation with Fergal was no horizontal discourse of equals.

There was no credible answer to the accusation that some of his colleagues on the Irish Times keep blogs, other than they are journalists who check their facts. Yet journalism has also been one of his prime targets in recent months, not least in the wake of last year’s General Election. Indeed it is a point on which I share a lot of his scepticism.

As Sandy Starr from Spiked! noted nearly four years ago in London: blogs are as blogs do.

As I have argued before, the negativism that arises in blogging and the blogosphere, is simply replicating a widespread negativism in wider society, not least within mainstream journalism.

John is simply describing an elephantine world by the single parts with which he comes into contact, in a room he cannot bare to enter. Martin Wolf (a blogger, of course) in the FT this morning, on different subject, has a usefully laconic retelling of an old fable:

…four people are told to go into a dark room, hold on to whatever they find and then say what it is. One says it is a snake. Another says it is a leathery sail. A third says it is a tree trunk. The last says it is a pull rope. It is, of course, an elephant.

I hope he will make some time between and his next utterance to do a little bit of research on the subject. He could do worse than come along and meet a few in the flesh in March at the Irish Blog Awards (for the third rather than the second time out lads)…

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