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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

political blogging « Previous | |Next »
October 23, 2008

I saw Kieran Gilbert from Sky News Australia's Agenda program interview Steve Clemons, a political blogger in the US who runs the Washington Note, yesterday about the US election. It wasn't Clemon's observation on the Presidential race that I found interesting. It was the attitude of Gilbert to political bloggers. He took them seriously.

They were accepted by Gilbert as acknowledgeable and as having something of interest to say--a far cry from the abuse dished out by The Australian's hack commentators and the general put down attitude of many journalists in the mainstream media.

Agenda is very much a Canberra insiders program---an extension of the Canberra Press Gallery---that picks up and explores the political issue arising out of Question Time. It's format usually has an opposition Shadow Minister (occasionally a Minister) informing us of the stance taken that day in Question Time with video footage and then two senior journalists, strategists, commentators interpreting the significance of the political events.

Both its two weekday presenter--- Kieran Gilbert and David Spiers--- are political bloggers--if irregular ones. Agenda, it would seem, does not have much of an online presence.

Sure political blogging is accepted as an integral part of the media landscape in the US, which is not the case in Australia. The dumping of national political commentary by Fairfax's Age and Sydney Morning Herald and their transformation of these newspapers into infotainment and lifestyle; plus the decline of The Australian into conservative thought bubbles creates spaces for political bloggers to explore those aspects of political events that are ignored by the mainstream media through necessity. Quiggin on The Australian's false claim that the Reserve Bank opposed the government’s deposit guarantee is a good example.

The rise of the internet is causing structural changes to the mass media, since the business model that has sustained metropolitan newspapers and underwritten large newsrooms, is under severe strain as advertising, especially classifieds, migrates from print to online. The consequence is that Fairfax and Channel Nine have been shredding staff and programs, whilst The Australian increasingly defines its rationale in terms of a war with the Government, Treasury and RBA. Why make enemies of the latter two?

As the closed insiders media world in Australia, based on the mass media of the 20th century, changes and begins to develop online diversity, bloggers can use the digital platform to develop different perspectives and highlight different issues in a rapidly changing media landscape.

Australians can utilize the capacity of digital technologies to capture and respond to arguments with which they disagree--what Lawrence Lessig calls citizen-generated political speech --- based on media material through fair use doctrine of copyright law.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:17 AM | | Comments (8)


It would appear that the ABC is stepping into the "vacum" of commentary through Unleashed

"Sure political blogging is accepted as an integral part of the media landscape in the US, which is not the case in Australia." It's not the case pretty much anywhere except the US.

The ABC has been better at the net than other media, but it still doesn't seem to have found its feet yet. It's still an island. News pieces refer to other sites, but don't link. I don't know whether that's for legal reasons, but it doesn't make use of the linking and networking power available to the American blogs.

In his post on The Australian's false claims Quiggin uses the term conservative cocoon instead of thought bubble, and he links to this post in The Atlantic by Ross Douthat.

Douthat says

The cocoon is the constellation of mutually-reinforcing conservative institutions - think tanks and advocacy groups, talk-radio shows and websites - that can create the same echo-chamber effect that the liberal media has long produced, and that at times makes it difficult for the Right to grapple with reality.

"Conservative cocoon" is a better term than conservative 'thought bubble'. The Australian is part of a constellation of conservative institutions---Quadrant, Institute of Public Affairs, Sydney Institute etc--- that are linked to their American counterparts such as the American Enterprise Institute.

Well I guess there must be a Nong Bubble too somewhere. Hmmm,now where would one find a very large safety pin?

what I was arguing was that the crowd at Agenda took a different view of political bloggers that was more in line with how they are seen in the US. In other words there is the opening onto a different online world based around knowledge and expertise.

Gary, you only have see the proof in the pudding.
The Australian has been wrong on just about every major issue it has reported on for the last eighteen months, and the more it has continued in denial for it, sustained if you can call it that, by limitless belief in its own bullsh-t. Yet the worse its attitude toward bloggers, amongst others, has become.
The Abetz/Shanahan nonsense is the rule not the exception, but it's the rest of us who are always fools!
" More "victories" like der Stalingrad und Stalin will be on der doorschteps auf Berlin...".

I wonder what use msm could make of independent bloggers in Australia?

who cares about the MSM. The tectonic plates in the media landscape have shifted.