Journalism, politics and the internet

Mick’s post set me thinking about the mix of fear and excitement created by internet penetration that’s sweeping my own small neck of the woods, journalism and politics. You may agree with media guru Roy Greenslade that it’s good that blogging has dethroned the top-down columnist. But here is David Leigh, an old friend and top investigative journalist, fearing that the web could kill off serious journalism .Can the web really change our ways of thinking and transform the sort of services government delivers? This is preoccupying head of Royal Society of Arts Matthew Taylor who was Tony Blair’s head of Big Ideas.. I went to one of Matthews’ seminars last week about the internet’s impact on privacy and it was terrifying.

According to David Hencke’s vivid piece on Gordon Brown’s first anniversary in office, our control freak Prime Minister’s latest obsession is the internet – but maybe he would do better to switch his computer off more often. Computer obsession is a disease.

New Labour’s top web guru is Brown’s current reading, Charles Leadbeater, for whom the impact of the internet knows no bounds. Leadbeater’s book We-Think was the first to be written with hundreds of contributors; his Big Idea is that the web enhances creativity exponentially.

For me, the internet for all its huge potential had yet the produce the paradigm shift in human behaviour – for good or ill. Yet Matthew Taylor, whose business it is to capture the zeitgeist, has no doubt that a whirlwind revolution is under way. Perhaps the transformation is happening before our eyes and we’re too close to it to see it yet.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London