The internet has created an arena where everyone can be a journalist. All a person needs is an opinion.
Up until recently, people in democratic societies wishing to have their ideas and opinions published had to contend with editorial policies that were generally based on the ideology of the editors, and of course, on what was sellable. However, this regime of control over what content is allowed to emerge is collapsing in today’s world of participatory media.
Today’s audience want to be part of the media, rather than passive receivers. Not only do they want to comment on the news, they want to be part of creating it.
Hence, many bloggers consider themselves ‘citizen journalists’ and believe they are better suited to provide the diversity that today’s democracies need, yet which are often ignored by traditional journalists. Citizen journalism hence advances the opportunity for bloggers to expose doctored or omitted facts from mainstream media and point out the bias by particular reporters who do not provide such opportunity for his/her readership to give voice to alternate opinions.
Citizen journalists, as bloggers, also encourage contributors and readers to think objectively and ask the probing questions that might often be avoided by a mainstream media organisation, particularly if they are working to a different (or hidden) agenda. The lack of scrutiny by the mainstream media to the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, and his empty bag of policies, is an excellent example of this.
Further, through blogs, citizen journalists have the opportunity to analyse and disseminate the news and opinions thrown at them from the established media. Shanahan’s interpretation of the opinion polls are good example, which are clearly based on his opinions, and not the polls. After each of his articles, the blogosphere is awash with a more objective and factual analysis.
Another direction we’ve seen in the MSM leans towards those stories that are trivial, narrow, shallow and sensationalist. And often untrue. Sure, many blog sites are just as meaningless (no offence meant), but citizen journalists generally have the meaningful intention of changing the direction of the media and exposing the shallowness and inconsistencies so evident in today’s MSM.
Nonetheless, citizen journalists have exploded in number, not because they are the echo of dissenting voices, but because the MSM has created an arena for them to enter. If the MSM was objective, impartial and committed to providing a quality service then in a modern democracy there may not be any citizen journalists, or for that matter, the millions of blog sites that exist purely to fill in the gaps exposed by the mainstream media empires.
Without them, we probably wouldn’t exist. Without us, the truth probably wouldn’t exist either.
In a few short years, blogging has become a global phenomenon. It has not only has reshaped our view of journalism, but has unlocked previously unrealised publishing opportunities. Blogging itself, in my opinion, is journalism. The readership is limited, hence blogging sites with similar agendas often link their sites together to broaden the impact of their commentary. The blog sites of the MSM usually filter out contributions from bloggers whose opinion do not fit into their schema, so while independent blog sites provide minimal impact, the avenues through the MSM can provide none.
Then what are the impacts of the independent blog sites?
We can discuss who was the greatest band of all time, or what is the best recipe for apple pie, or whether we did actually go to the moon, but I prefer the sites that allow one to put up an argument and present supporting evidence as to why such-and-such an argument is valid and should be supported by the wider blogging community.
When an opinion is submitted in the form of a blog, the author must remember that it is unlikely that the contribution will sit idle in the site where the blog was published – it may be referred to another site, and another site, and another.
It is in the political sphere that the impact of blogging is being nurtured. The MSM doesn’t give a damn if we want to argue over the greatest band of all time or the best recipe for apple pie, but they do give a damn if we grow a voice that opposes their political agenda.
We’re the voice.