Bloggers not to blame for the broadening of journalism

Not sure I agree with everything Malachi says in his oped of earlier this week, but this part is worth repeating, for those who still think there is a war on between MSM and the blogosphere:

…there is one big flaw in the perception that bloggers and journalists are at war with each other; they actually feed off each other. They have a symbiotic relationship – and it is changing. It used to be that journalism was a coherent and well-demarcated profession.

The job was defined by the National Union of Journalists, as much as by the employer. So, as a newspaper reporter, when I started, I would have caused a strike if I had carried a camera.

I use a camera for blogging. The bloggers define their own functions and play with whatever technology suits them. And most don’t worry about quality. It seems almost in the intrinsic character of blogging that the background noise is too high and that the audio hisses.

As a radio journalist, in the days of tape-recording, I was not allowed to edit my own tapes, but had to work alongside an audio engineer. Now, even in the BBC, I can edit everything. In fact, I edit packages for Sunday Sequence at home. I often record talks for Radio Scotland and email them to the producer. So bloggers are not to blame for the broadening definition of a journalist; it is happening anyway.

As for the rest, as Andy Starr noted back in 2004, blogging is as blogging does… One big advantage is that we can narrowcast and have considerably more freedom to cover what we think is the right to cover than our friends and colleagues in the MSM…

In the meantime just keep an eye on the NI Water story… Slugger understands that UTV has done a considerable amount of work on this.  But with the exception of the News Letter, Slugger has pretty much been left alone to blaze (not sure if that’s quite the right word) its own trail on this…

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  • Damian O’Loan

    Interesting post, but doesn’t it suggest that journalists have adopted the sophistication of Adam Smith’s economics, while bloggers remain in the agricultural age of commentary?

    Which would not be a wholly accurate representation of reality.

  • “bloggers and journalists are at war with each other; they actually feed off each other”

    Sometimes the media even acknowledges material it ‘takes’ from NALIL blog; sometimes it runs scared of litigation!!

    The New Letter also did some sterling coverage on the Rathlin ferry saga but our elected representatives failed to capitalise on it.

    Collaboration is certainly in the public interest; long may it continue.

  • Bloggers have opened up the debate and investigate aspect of journalism. It was a closed shop for so long many journalists had become complacent. It is wide open now and that is before including those bloggers who are also journalists..

    Long may the ‘battle’ continue.

  • Pippakin, in the past it was relatively easy for a Minister to ‘lean on’ an editor or a newspaper proprietor and so curb the flow of information. The rise of the blogger has blown that away; it has also given journalists more confidence to get stuck into a story. This is good news for the democratic process and bad news for those who’ve relied on cronyism for advancement.

  • Nevin

    Agreed.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    For the record I actually read that link. Honestly.
    I agree that Journos and the new Technology goes back as far as at least Kelvin McKenzie and the Sun at Wapping.
    And those BBC journos with those funny satelite phone contraptions and the Westminster journos who rely on their blackberry thingys and wave them about to show they are well informed.
    And didnt the BBC a few years back have this uniting of Radio and TV journalism where the wasteful use of our licence fee included one Radio and one TV journo doubling up on a story.
    So in part the opening up of journalism is economic driven. Different issue but why does BBC fly sports reporters from the regions into London for five minutes on camera for a six hour shift on News 24.
    Couldnt it be done as easily by a Reporter in the regions staying in the regions?

    I got the impression Mr O’Doherty was not totally at ease with bloggers pointing a camera phone at him. But as we established a few weeks ago ..to my surprise…… a photographer can take a pic on the street and publish it.

    There is I think a conflict of interests within Slugger on this. Slugger believing that there is no war between the Blogosphere and the Mainstream Media falls I think into the category of “he would say that wouldnt he?” but I think Mr Fealty is BASICALLY right.
    For the older conventional journalist there IS a War.
    For the younger Blogger (often anti Mainstream Media and anti-journalist) there IS a War.
    Those are of course necessarily crude distinctions.
    There is a cross-over point in the Middle perhaps. Where one feeds off the other.
    Clearly there are cases where “journalists” use Blogs to pursue an agenda that they could not do with the Mainstream Media.
    Clearly they use Blogs to publish stories that have been spiked in Ormeau Avenue or wherever for not reaching the highest standard of relevance, neutrality or attribution or any other reason.
    “Slugger understands that UTV have got some NI Water stuff”…..really?
    I actually nearly typed “in the pipeline”. But does this understanding come from a leak (oops sorry) from a cleaner emptying the waste paper basket or from a journo?
    A careless word at lunch in Botanic Ave?
    A boastful word in a bar in Ormeau Road?
    A carefully thought out word in an email?

    So Mr Fealty clearly proves the point of co-operation.
    In that sense the mainstream Media has little to fear from Blogs. They are using them.
    In a sense Blogs are doing the work that is done so well by Private Eye.

  • Is it not partly the case that traditional journalism must capture it’s sense to have some sort of coherence (and to escape the sub-editors scalpel)? Blogs or on-line news (where do you draw the demarcation?) anticipate the attendant discussion. Whilst some on here obviously believe they are the talent, if you keep ending blogs with ellipses, surely you’re giving the game away that the public debate or contributions are an essential ingredient?
    After all, you aren’t really a junkie if you can’t get the drugs.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘ those who still think there is a war on between MSM and the blogosphere’

    Some people still don’t get the idea that the MSM is dead, in a sense. Record companies still produce mass-produced, Simon Cowell crap that reaches millions, but it’s still crap. The real action takes place in garages and bedrooms in Streatham or Drumcondra or Largs or Kilkeel. The future is THERE, not in some west end chrome and smoked glass office where record executives snort coke off the inner thigh of some ‘model’. There’s a clear demarcation between what’s real and important and what’s just a load of bollocks.

    Bollocks that will sell and be profitable, but bollocks nonetheless.

    The music industry has the jump on text/image based media, I think, quite simply because it has had to adapt to the potential of the digital era. Text based media is still lagging far behind, still stuck in the notion that their words, their papers, their TV reports are ‘important’ when no one actually gives a fuck.

    What IS important is that there is, via cyberspace, actual experts commenting on a series of topics as opposed to a handful of ‘professionals’ who are winging it in the ‘sounding knowledgeable’ stakes.

    The record business is dead, television is dead, and text media is going the same way (although, unsurprisingly, the MSM aren’t keen to acknowledge the fact). In 10-15 years what is now the blogosphere will be the MSM.

  • Mick Fealty

    The Scary Duck blog won the very first Guardian Best Blog compo… It was also the very last, since after comparing so many apples and oranges, the Guardian gave up…

    Not all blogs are valued in the same way… or for the same reasons… In my upcoming report on the Irish blogosphere for Total Politics, aka, Iain Dale… I make the point that whilst the initial gold-rush to the blogosphere may be over, yet those who enter now, or who choose to keep going, have found a purpose and not just something to say…

    There was a time when some would argue Slugger was little more than a human news feed (as though such would have no value)… But gradually it has changed in character…

    IMHO, Slugger’s success lies in plurality of voice, and ground rules for public debate, not in traditional notions of balance or impartiality

    We talk with our audience, not down to them; and (honestly) we do listen…

    Because no one gets paid, there is no faustian pact with advertisers and we each of us *individually* go for what we think is important…

    If we occasionally have some purchase with the mainstream the secret lies in the degree to which we are happy to take a punt on the individual intelligence of our blogging team, and the capacity of our audience then (either privately or publicly in threaded discussion) to uncover previously hidden contexts…

    That more than the gathering of pure facts themselves is the golden component of Slugger’s currency.

  • The original article is now up on my blog.

    http://www.malachiodoherty.com

  • I am also, incidentally, editor of thestreet.ie and artstalk.net and I have a lively facebook page, so I have interests on both sides of this debate.

  • Mick, does the ‘pact’ with Slugger sponsors not inhibit blogging team comment about the sponsors or their key clients? Surely at the very least some team members are likely to pull their punches.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nevin, we have sponsors of events like the Slugger Awards and political innovation events. But there is no ‘pact’ as such.

    More likely is a problem arising from a story relating to a client I might be working for, doing training or some form of bespoke consultancy.

    BUt that would only be a conflict of interest for me, or my business colleague Paul Evans. In which case I would generally hand it on to Pete or Chris or some other more detached member of the team.

  • “Bloggers have opened up the debate and investigate aspect of journalism”

    Pippakin, doing some investigation and opening up the debate is one thing but unless part of the MSM picks up the baton the story rapidly dies. For example, I’ve searched Slugger for some references to the NIABT ‘educational charity’ – a cosy little relationship in Stormont’s Room 401 mainly between MLAs and businessmen – but get no results. NIABT’s equivalent in Scotland got quite a lot of coverage but not so the local form.

  • Nevin

    I do understand! But, bearing in mind the blogger is often also a journalist the expansion of the blog to investigative journalism is a comparatively small step and one that has already been taken by many. I also, believe it not, understand the need for the story to be ‘picked up and ran with’ by the MSM.

    It is true that a blog can be dismissed as relatively small and often reactionary, but the ones doing the dismissing are invariably the usual suspects.

    I think, hope, the trend will, far from shrinking into conformity, grow in both stature and influence. The alternative is for cronyism to advance into the blogosphere.

  • Ah yes, that sophistication of Adam Smith’s economics. That which permits the Economist (as with this week’s cover article) to forget most of its previous decency and social postures in favour of Cameronphilia.

    In these days of search engines and cyber-archiving, the other difference between the two media is that news is no longer tomorrow’s chip-wrapper. One no longer needs to visit a copyright library to ascertain past misjudgments.

  • Mark McGregor

    What I find interesting is the level crossover happens at locally, this is where we see MSM willing to pick what they see as ‘talent’ from blogs and pay for it.

    From what I’ve noticed from the two publications willing to do it, Belfast Tele and Newsletter, certainly don’t identify bloggers as having journalistic skills and on the occasions they do tap them it is as polemicists/columnists.

    This would indicated they don’t see bloggers as consistently able to generate stories but consistently able to offer an opinion on things after the fact.

    Also, in Slugger’s case at least we see that bloggers approached by the MSM to work for money have generally left the fold – either entirely or to their own space.

  • Damian O’Loan

    A more insightful interpretation of ‘sophistication’ than I had intended, though I hope you could see I wasn’t entirely frank.

    On the permanent record, which is often cited as a warning to young people as though others might suddenly discover we make mistakes, it’s perhaps contributory to an acceptance that, ideally, identities shift, opinions grow and people are not defined by an iris scan. Perhaps an era of tolerance for bad judgement? I hope so, in my case.

    Though I haven’t seen much shift in the underlying message of the Economist, which doesn’t strike me as something Smith would stand over.

  • Damian O’Loan

    I hope you can tolerate my mistakes there.

  • “The alternative is for cronyism to advance into the blogosphere.”

    You mean you haven’t read ‘From the Balcony”:

    “Meanwhile, I hear the SDLP-leaning press in Belfast is having another pop at the Board of NI Water. Funny how when it was their pals sitting on the boards of state agencies during the years of warfare that they never raised a peep about their compensation. Surely not sour grapes from those who once could dictate who served — and who didn’t serve — on boards; needless to say ability didn’t figure as highly as loyalty to the Bishop and to the mandarins in Stormont to secure such appointments. Indeed, in nationalist areas in the eighties, it wasn’t only who was ‘allowed’ to serve on boards, but this self-styled Catholic elite teamed up with the Brits to freeze out republicans from jobs and community posts.

    Funny how times change. Nowadays, thank God, those appointed to public office have to prove their worth — a challenge I’m up to as a director of NI Water.”

    So to whom will MÓM be swearing loyalty? Surely not his old mucker, Minister Conor Murphy 🙂

    Aloha!! Isn’t it amazing how far you can travel on a working wage!!

  • Nevin

    Aloha indeed. Cronyism is after all so seductive. Oh to be one of the powerful few.

    I agree with you and must pay more attention to The Balcony, not so far one I have done much more than glance at.

  • Pippakin, you’ll see from the pages of ‘On The Balcony’ that Máirtin pays OOPs plays Romeo to David Lyle’s Juliet (I prefer Julie-Ann myself!!).

    You’ll also see elsewhere that David Lyle was one of the speakers in the recent MÓM ‘choeographed’ New York New Belfast tour though I’ve not seen who paid Lyle’s fees.

    You’ll possibly be fascinated to see who else was on that tour some days before the new NEDs were announced. US participants might be forgiven for thinking that New Belfast is the capital of New Ireland 🙂

  • Nevin

    Oh my, I have been neglecting From the Balcony. I must pay more attention.

    Surely there are those in America who are convinced they have been ruling the entire island of Ireland for decades…

    To get back to blogs in general, I think the advent of blogs has been entirely healthy, and not everyone writes abut politics. The blogosphere itself is enticing and I hope it continues to attract the interest of those prepared to delve and question.

  • redhugh78

    You wuill be here for a while then Mark, unless Tony O Reilly snaps you up.

  • redhugh78

    ‘Slugger’s success lies in plurality of voice’..

    Come off it Mick, stick the boot into the shinners adfinitum is what passes for plurality these days is it?

    Still no mainstream Republican contributor on Slugger is the elephant in the room, but am I surprised? not a jot.

  • Mick Fealty

    If that’s all you see, then fair enough. It’s not my job to persuade you out of your own settled view.

    But you should note that over the years we have ‘stuck the boot into’ almost every political party on the local roster, and we try not to pull our punches with anyone.

    I have had stick to one degree or another from all of them. That goes with the territory. But we try to give credit were credit is due.

    I happily defended a series of attacks on the Slugger Awards choice of Martin McGuinness as ‘Politician of the Year last year, and was somewhat vindicated two weeks later when the Bel Tel confirmed he was the most popular member of the administration.

    And you are simply wrong on the lack of a SF voice on Slugger.

    Mark was mainstream SF for about three years on Slugger before he left the party. Chris is pro SF. And over the years I have sent out an open invite (and several direct invitations) to mainstream SF figures to blog or guest blog here.

    I wish people from SF would put the hands up a bit more often, but I cannot force them to do it. It would have been good, for instance, if someone with pro SF sympathies had blogged Francie Molloy’s remarks carried in the IN the other day about the attacks on Orange and GAA Halls.

    It is certainly not me that’s stopping them. Okay, it can get hostile here. But that is politics. The centre of gravity cannot shift if people prefer to haver on the edge of the pool rather than dive into the middle.

    If you think it is just Slugger, then show me the Republican blogosphere? Chris Gaskin was a great example of a courageous pro SF voice. Okay, so he’s gone, but who has taken his place? Pat and few others on P.ie?

    It may not come across like it, but I do value the SF voices who brave it out on Slugger. Yes, they get a hard time. But so does everyone else who stands for something (rather than against everything).

  • Munsterview

    Nevin,

    could you please inform be as to what planet you just dropped in from as I would indeed like to visit such a place with its Age Of Innocence still intact !

    Political Parties not alone control flow of information to the media, they do so to the extent that live coverage of parliament has in effect made these chambers extensions of broadcasting studios.

    It is now a requirement for all mainstream political parties in the Dail for their members, elected peoples representatives, to first run their questions past their policy dep. to ensure that nothing arise that can embarrass the party.

    Likewise the same unelected back-room guys and gals supply the answers ( including what they consider the occasional joke) to the elected members to read in to the record. This is how the ‘information age’ is relating to politics.

    Blogging is putting information out there but is only reaching those in the main who would get this information for themselves anyway. I followed two articles published on a North American site some weeks ago, the articles were recopied dozens of times and translated into different languages but the requested feedback to the originating site was virtually zero.

    The blogging and commentating community is just that a special interest community just like any other special interest group. I suspect that other than the occasional piece that ‘ takes off ‘ ever so often and captures the international attention for the proverbial fifteen minutes, that the rest is but occupying the attention of the usual suspects in our own cyber space cul-de-sac !

  • Would have to agree with redhugh that the anti-SF line on here (from bloggers) can get to a very high pitch sometimes. Commenters are a different matter and obviously there is no ‘political’ moderation of posts, so I’m kind of equivocal of criticising slugger, per se. But I’ve read and very erratically commented on slugger since its early days (mostly anonymously) but a fairly hysterical line over SF do seem to have become more common recently for whatever reason (well, long term ministerial responsibilty obviously has contributed).
    For what it is worth – I think there is still an underground mentality amongst mainstream republicans and historically we’ve not been particularly trusting of MSM as an unmediated news source. There does seem to be a fourth wall of sorts here in terms of open engagement. Am afraid I can’t actually think of a short term solution to that.

  • Munsterview, I agree with much of what you say but there’s one important point you’ve missed viz the impact of a blog on the ‘back-room’ folks: politicians and public servants. It can be purgative as some other Slugger commenters can attest 🙂

  • “In my upcoming report on the Irish blogosphere for Total Politics, aka, Iain Dale”

    Mick F,

    Cronyism in blogging, na surely not.

    —————————–
    William Markfelt

    12:04 am, spot on,
    ——————————
    The main difference between bloggers and the MSM, the latter is, when push comes to shove, a willing vehicle of the State. There is a section of hallowed ground they will not step upon.

    I found it interesting how a section of the MSM attempted to inveigle WilkiLeaks into its grasp, with shadowy movie star like photos of and powder puff interviews with Julian Assange, who eventually agreed to the MSM demands that he redact info he had intended to publish on his website in full.

    Some might say this gave WL a larger audience for its scoop, if that is what it was, but I do wonder whether the world has really changed that much from the day when the US government, via the CIA, hunted Philip Agee across the globe and ordered the British government to deport him from the UK.
    ————————————
    Nevin

    Best quote of the week.

    Aloha!! Isn’t it amazing how far you can travel on a working wage!!;)

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty.
    The truth of the matter is that Sinn Féin dont “need” Slugger O’Toole. SF-IRA is in the game of consolidating its own support rather than gain converts (if it has gained any new voters in the past 20 years it has done so without Slugger).
    Nor is SF-IRA interested in the dry political rhetoric , the game that Slugger plays so well.
    If SF thought it needed a Slugger regular, it would no doubt supply one. it would no doubt give Slugger an element of credibility it currently lacks but would do little for SF-IRA.
    It is attacked enough in proxy without actually being here.

    While I doubt Slugger actually has an editorial line as such, there is a certain concensus built around the “moderate parties” supplemented with good old fashioned internationalism (the bigger picture). SF is therefore the “enemy” and probably sees Slugger as a talking shop for anoraks. It is of course wrong.

  • Munsterview

    fitz…

    An insider / outsider view on this.

    First off slugger is not ignored by Sinn Fein, they cannot afford to. In fact slugger is read by every mainstream political party in these Islands…… or at least by those charged with providing a brief and digest of current events for senior politicians. That includes Aras staff and the President. In fact I would not be at all surprised to find that slugger is also on the palace reference list across the water!

    When I first became involved in politics in the late sixties, the election boxes were something to see… FF voted 1,2,3, for their own people and that was it, there could have been up to ten other candidates on the slate, they just did not matter as far as the hard core voters were concerned… there was no political life outside FF.

    That also represented the reality in most parish or regional public life, the same FF party people were to be found running the GAA, the Annual Carnival, helping with the annual mission, fundraising for the church etc. There was limited power sharing with FG where there had to be for the optics but in such instances the decisions were made at pre meetings. FG, it should be said, were equally as ruthless in monopolizing power where opportunity presented.

    The Republican Movement and Sinn Fein likewise : it has been a long hard slog, all those in the party or associated with it got total hassle from State forces North and South from 1969 up to the ceasefire in 96. Indeed it took the Southern Special Branch another full decade to begin tapering off activities against Southern republicans.

    In this situation there was a ‘ them and us’ almost all of the political activity, social activity and even business dealings where possible took place within the broad republican network. In this context Fitz is correct, it was always about consolidating, upwards and onwards, outreach was only of interest in so far as it offered the opportunity to gain recruits or influence!

    SF have an evolved system that works. Debate is part of that but only debate on the SF terms and to it’s advantage. Slugger is not ignored : I have drawn fire on a few occasions because of some comments; however the poster responding will not be found on every thread on every day……. intervention is only when absolutely necessary. There is nothing to be gained in political terms from open debate….. it just produces a non controlled situation.

    Sinn Fein are not the only offenders in this regard…… there are plenty on the other side of the debate, masters of the pity comment, practiced in the sound bite, staunch defenders of the protestant cause etc, yet whenever an issue comes up like the Irish slavery issue now underway on another thread there is a sharp disengagement from all but the Nationalist side of the debate as ‘the other side’ are not interested in discussing these historical issues.

    Why should they, before the bar of history they are on a hiding to nothing on these issues, those with the wit to realize this and the intellectual capacity to contribute, are not alone content, but are also aware of the necessity of allowing sleeping dogs lie…….especially canines who are likely to take a bite out of protestant posteriors!

    Sinn Fein core supporters are not the only ones to shun real debate in slugger. It is only when the ‘other side’ come out to play on real issues that SF cannot ignore that more widespread and authoritative republican views will manifest here. Until then slugger is regarded, and not without good reason, as an outlet for fireside fusileers!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh I think the figures quoted for politicians etc reading Slugger (as quoted in Wikipedia) are very wide of the mark. Who on earth wrote Sluggers entry in Wikipedia?
    While I have no doubt that it is scanned on occasions by party hacks/insiders, Id be amazed if they took my rants er…….carefully considered opinions…. seriously.
    Very few of Sluggers contributors have any real acumen in politics and history.
    SF actively engaging in Slugger would have no “gain” to SF……….and conceivably they would lose a little credibility.

  • Munsterview

    Because of contextulasization I was not as succinct ( not one of my strong points anyway) as I perhaps should have been.

    However from my viewpoint your last line distills the essence of the situation!

  • Mark McGregor

    I think some of you missed a quote:

    ‘blogging is as blogging does…’

    Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

    It is a blog – you get the content that develops.

    Don’t like it? Join in, move on, start your own.

    Complaining about content while not submitting any – well, that is just complaining

  • Big Maggie

    I won’t be sorry to see the MSM lose out to the bloggers.

    Journalists have had it their way for too long. William Markham pointed out earlier how the indies are taking on the music industry. I see something similar happening in book publishing.

    It’s particularly noticeable whenever a journalist publishes a book. Immediately all the mates pile in to talk it up. This is why we see the phenomenon of the same tiny selection of new books being reviewed in print. Check out the CV of the authors and like as not you’ll find they’re journalists.

    This is where Amazon and others are going to be of increasing value. Genuine readers can tell us what they think of books and we won’t have to accept the lies any more.

    So if you ever wondered why a book that was hyped in the MSM turned out to be a shite read, now you know.

  • Big Maggie

    I agree. MSM has been a closed shop and in some cases a supercilious one at that.

    The reins are loosening and the change is a breath of fresh air.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Youre broadly right.
    Journalists never criticise other journalists.
    Nothing will work a journalist into a frenzy quicker than a fellow journalist being criticised. Journos are off limits.

    But criticism of the Main stream Media as a whole needs to be resisted if only because such criticism makes us appear like the nutters on Fox News.

  • Jivaro

    Newspaper and broadcast journalists ( by which I mean people who work for newspapers and broadcasters, whether on a staff or freelance basis) can get very touchy and pretentious about their status as ‘real’ journalist.

    They behave like that not only with bloggers, but also with all the other communications people with whom they have dealings, whether public sector press officers, PROs or private sector PR people.

    And really, they have very little to be pretentious about.

    Open any of the three local morning papers, or listen to the BBC, and at least 90% of what is in all of them has been supplied or stimulated by a press office or a comms unit or PR agency. Might be the PSNI, might be the NIO, DSD, DCAL press office etc, could be Queen’s or UU press office, the SDLP, UUP, DUP etc., and that’s before you come to Coca Cola, the charities, the NGOs, the human rights industry, the greens, the fashion people, the confectioners, the drinks companies etc. All these and more are constantly feeding story leads into the news and feature desks, offering pictures and expert comment. And that’s just locally.

    Open up a two week old copy of PR Week and you will see that the national news is much the same: you will see all the PR campaigns that have made it onto the national news agenda over the past fortnight.

    In addition, the main newspapers and broadcasters take a feed from the Press Association and the big news agencies like Reuters, AP, Bloomberg and AFP. These too are fed by a vast invisible hinterland of press officers and PR people.

    That is to say, there is very little journalism in this country ( or anywhere else) that is not fed and encouraged by some press officer or PR person somewhere.

    Even Watergate – the biggest story of them all for self-regarding journos – boiled down to a leak by an embittered ex-employee, one of the oldest motivations of them all. Woodward and Bernstein didn’t find that story: it was handed to them.

    So let’s not get too up ourselves as bloggers, either: we swim in the same sea of flotsam and jetsam as the journos.

    But as men of straw, we are just less likely to be sued.

  • The cuts first instigated by the ‘saviour’ of the UK press has hit journalist hard, as Jivaro writes, for example these days the Tabloids bar sport and a good part of the broadsheets are almost entirely filled with PR candy floss.

    There is nothing wrong with journalists being touchy about their profession, although it is just a tad late in the day, if the majority had stood with their brothers and sisters at wapping, todays press might not be so god awful and their may have still been a ‘viable’ profession called journalism.

    What I find interesting is the wider the class mix of bloggers becomes, the more narrow class based the MSM becomes. If you look at the class backgrounds of those who work in todays MSM, it is as rigidly middle class as it was back in the 1950s. Hence all those nasty and silly stories about the economically disadvantaged and wellfare benefits, which have about as much reality to the truth as an episode of Eastenders.

    While I am on that prog, has anyone else noticed how the child actors in the programe have gone from being kids from W/C backgrounds to middle class. Thus you get resident thug and hard man Phil Mitchell and the chip shop owne’rs kids talking like little lord snooty, etc, and two of the squares teenagers are off to Oxford.

    It is what passes for reality TV I suppose, by the way, what classes as a blog?

    This is a serious question as I have absolutely no idea, perhaps that because I watch to many soaps?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Journalists do get a little precious, believing themselves to have the qualifications and skills…….and moral authority to pronounce on weighty matters of politics.
    On the question of “qualifications” most journos actually rely on experience, a course like the one year course at the Belfast Metroploitan College is considered risible in journalistic quarters.
    Skills? What actual skill is required? Shorthand maybe. Or in the case of our local broadcasters some nepotism wont go amiss. But its not exactly rocket science.
    Most interested citizens have at least a good sense of politics and the ability to pick out the importance of a story.

    Moral authority……well this evaporates with the series of compromises the Journalist needs to make wth the Devil. to publish or not publish the story.

  • Munsterview

    I have consistently raised this matter in relation to Journalism in the South with regard to independent or objective reporting.

    Garda Headquarters throw regular bashes for the ‘security correspondents’ in the South attended by a raft of high ranking garda personnel. There behind closed doors over a good meal and plenty plonk, all at taxpayers expense, there is a good old natter about ‘scum bags’ ‘subversives’ ‘bloody politicians’ and any other matters concerning the Boys In Blue and the ‘security corrs’

    The Sunday Tribune prides itself in being a ‘campaigning newspaper’. The editor earlier gave a talk on Journalism to media students in Limerick University and she was challenged from the floor by someone present on this very practice.

    The editor not alone confirmed the practice but defended working such a system as a ‘reality to live with’ !

    The editor also openly admitted that should a story on garda wrongdoing be broken, then it would have to be a journalist other than the security correspondent that would have to break it. This produces a ‘vested interest’ situation where reporters working a story have to keep the ‘security correspondents’ in the dark as they are likely to tip off their ‘sources’ to preserve their links.

    Before the ‘Donegal Garda Scandal’ broke, Billy Flynn Private Investigator had send letters over a three year period to the media regarding the practices up there………. and none would touch the story!

    Every Southern journalist covering the Circuit Courts has to rely on a ‘working relationship’ with a registrar where after the court sitting they are facilitated unofficially with asses to court records etc., any criticism of a judge ( God forbid ) or of court practice generally and this co-operation is withdrawn.

    In the High Courts the journalists are as much embedded in the system as are journalists covering the war with armed forces in the Mid-East and elsewhere. The result…… no critical evaluation of the courts system or a real picture of what is happening along the lines of Nell McCafferty’s groundbreaking, revealing pieces of decades ago.

    In fact it speaks volumes in relation to court reporting that this series of articles have not yet been surpassed for giving a true picture of the sheer awful state of things, despite the passage of a quarter of a century.

    The circles of intellectual interest in this country are simply too small to allow for independence, the Gardai / Journalist relationship is a scandal and festering sore on the body politic in it’s own right. The same cosy relationship existed in property circles etc.

    When the major USA network investigated the Beef Tribunal Scandal I was contacted by the US researchers and had a number of meetings with them. Within hours of the first meeting, which of course was monitored by Garda C3 or whatever, several journalists had contacted these researchers with ‘off the record’ briefings of my alleged subversive activities etc.

    When I then delineated the journalist / Garda/ vested interests they were literally at a loss for words. After a few moments of silence one said ‘ if what this guy says is true this God Damm place is as bad as Panama.

    I have yet to hear of a better summary of our whole Southern body politic!

  • Paul

    The Belfast Telegraph has an article tonight informing us that a cow has been rescued from a bog….in Hampshire:

    http://tinyurl.com/23p5xk3

    OK, it’s quiet season but considering all the dirt and filth of various descriptions we still have lying in our dark corners, this is what I would have been paying for if it were, as per less than a decade ago, my main source of NI news?

    There is more than enough room for good, solid investigative journalism here; it’s pity that we can count the number of good investigative journalists on the fingers of half a hand but nevertheless the space is there. A blogger will never have the time or resources back-up to do what a David Gordon does. Apart from that, in terms of political opinion and analysis there is precious little difference in quality from that being offered at the top end of the blogging world here and the average journalist.

    The Tele, in particuliar knows that fact, and that’s why we have the Donnelly v Polley Roadshow on issues such as the player qualfication fiasco- with those two, they get both the quality *and* the ability to provoke the kind of response in the comments column that the likes of dreary old Eric Waugh can only dream about. And higher number of comments means higher reader figures which means higher advertising clout.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Munsterview,
    I cant of course comment on your personal experiences but Journalists are actually part of the body politic…..rather than detached from it as they claim to be.
    The “sports” journalists and “political journalists” and I daresay the “security” correspondents manage to miss stories that “news” journalists pick up.
    In Ireland…..north and south……we are ill served by journalists.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes..that two man show is a feature of the dreaded “phone in” shows much beloved of Talk Sport. One presenter takes a view……the other takes the exact opposite view. Meanwhile the punters phone in at premium rates and the adverisers are happy.
    Artificial synthetic controversy.
    Of course Jon Gaunt, Ian Collins, Nick Ferrari, John Whale and our beloved Stephen Nolan are past masters at this nonsense.

    Yes it would be foolish to say that Bloggers are as good as journalists. But as youve observed the better bloggers are much better than the worst journos. And they hate that.

  • Mick…..

    Repeat after me
    Eastenders is not real
    Eastenders is not real

  • I have agree with Mark McGregor…… Blogging is as blogging does.

    As regards the standard of journalism here well it is what it is and unfortunately the lowest common denominator seems to rule the roost as regards what does or doesn’t get into the papers. It is a small little place and access is key wether we like it or not.(But how you approach gaining access goes along way too).
    Speaking personally i have a couple of photographs and accompanying stories that won’t see the light of day till after a few folks have passed on, i’m protecting my own interests as much as anything but i’m not a journo and if i choose ‘to print and be damned’ on my blog i’d be within my rights to.
    The same must be said of security journos who have to weigh up the pros and cons of a much larger picture which should be taken into consideration. Not only that but a security journo has also to be aware of possible planted black propaganda before publishing stories.

  • Munsterview

    Of course all good journalists are a mixture of insider ( vital for information and to have a finger on the pulse of the body politic ) and outsider ( having sufficient independence to write critically ).

    Our problem in Ireland is given the relative size of the place and limited numbers of ‘movers and shapers’, it takes an exceptional journalist to maintain their uncompromised integrity, absolute independence of comment and acceptance into closed circles of power / privilege.

    The late John healy was one such person…….. how many more immediately come to mind.

    Even editorial lines reflect the total dishonestly of the stilted Irish Media scene. As the current issue of the Phoenix point out, during the recent Troubles The Irish Times lost no opportunity to thunder against violence and it’s corrosive effect in society.

    All very laudable if it was anti-violence per se. However this same paper have devoted several features to glorifying the ‘Fighting Irish’ in the British Army in a succession of puff pieces that a Phobalacht editor would not have dared used in relation to IRA Vols. during the height of the armed campaign. To paraphrase Yeats, words of theirs will ‘ send young men out to die’ because they are nothing other than recruiting puff pieces!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The violence of course made superstars of Belfast journalists who probably circa 1966 expected a full time career covering a flower show in Ballymena and covering TV licence dodgers in court in Newtownards.
    Not only did a lot of people make a lot of cash as stringers for English papers, the more celebrated got to appear as “experts” on Newsnight, Channel 4 News etc.
    While the majority of people in Norn Iron enjoy the Peace …journalists are actually worse off and have a vested financial interest in talking up the dissident threat.
    For journalists the gravy train has been de-railed.

  • Moochin Photoman,

    Not real, what next will you be claiming, a united republic by 2016 or the English liberal’s are cutting the benefits of some of the poorest in the land.

    I will have you know not only did Phil Mitchell repair my car, before the Bolivian disco powder took hold, but I have also spent a delightful lunch hour in the Rovers Return, discussing the Guardian crossword with Ken Barlow, after which I drove south and Bennie signed me into Crossroads Motel when Miss Diane was on her tea break.

    Must go the fire alarm has just gone off.