Blurry lines lead to turf wars

Vernon Small airs some thoughts on the blogging vs journalism issue, and he’s confused. “The advent of blogging, websites and online newsletters, has blurred the line to the point where I can barely see it at times.”

The immediate trigger for Small’s ruminations was the presence at National’s weekend conference of David Farrar — NZ’s best read blogger and organically a key part of National’s media machine, though not a paid part — “sharing the scoff and liquid largesse put on by the party for the media in the room set aside for us.”

We know that Farrar enjoyed the press hospitality, because he blogged about it. The Standard’s Clinton Smith a.k.a. Steve Pierce, on the other hand, was refused press accreditation.

For Small, the key issue seems to be subjectivity (though he avoids this word) and partisanship:

“… several reporters have told me they are uncomfortable having someone so closely aligned with the party – or with any party – seamlessly incorporated into the media, sitting alongside them, and potentially hearing conversations between frontline reporters and their news editors and the like.

“So where should the lines be drawn?

“Is “biased” blogging any different from left or right wing reporting?”

Delightfully naive. One doesn’t have to have taken a course in the politics of the media to know that (1) “objectivity is bullshit” (as Ruth Butterworth put it when I did one such course) and (2) the “mainstream media” props up the capitalist system and the existing power structures every hour of the day, every day of the week.

If you rule bloggers out because they take a partisan stance, then you’d have to refuse press accreditation to Radio America and Faux News, most British papers (tabloid and broadsheet) and … it’s not getting any better. The mainstream media are increasingly mixing opinion with their news, if you haven’t noticed.

Perhaps mindful of this, Small allows that while he finds it “hard to envisage a situation where I would in his role as chair of the press gallery give the nod to [an application for accreditation from a blogger] under our existing rules… that’s not to say there would never be a justified case.”

So, if we jetison the quaint fiction that our news media are unbiased reporters of objective facts, can we distinguish between bloggers and journos?

Some would argue that bloggers just rant. Well, that line’s easily disposed of. Anyone read Granny’s deputy political editor Fran O’Salivatin’ recently?

Oh, you say, the news media hunt out original facts, bloggers just repeat and add some commentary. Hell, let me introduce you to the “wire services”. And remind you of how many journos have been laid off in recent months. It’s not as though some blogs don’t break stories anyway.

So, let a thousand bloggers bloom. Out with the stuffy old-school pretence of professionalism and objectivity and in with transparency and colour. Let the market rule!

Hat-tip:The Hive who tackles this question, but is singularly unconvincing. It seems that capacity to tolerate the grinding vapidity of party conferences is the key feature distinguishing journos from bloggers. I doubt this, and QB provides no evidence that the journos assigned to party conferences enjoy them in any degree.

Update: A good solution to Small’s conundrum from Homepaddock, who writes that, “My answer is some journalists are bloggers, some are not; some blogging is journalism, some is not.” Now, we just need to define when blogging is journalism. I’d say, when something that is “news” is gathered and/or disseminated by the blogger. Now, we just need to define what we mean by “news”…

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6 Responses to “Blurry lines lead to turf wars”

  1. macdoctor01 Says:

    YEAH! Sod objectivity! let anarchy rule! Down with media!
    Wow! this blogging stuff really goes to your head, doesn’t it? 😉

    Let the market rule!
    What a thoroughly un-lefty thing to say, JP 🙂

  2. Better Dead Than Red Says:

    “and (2) the “mainstream media” props up the capitalist system and the political elite every hour of the day, every day of the week.”

    One word gives the lie to this- “Obama”.

    Ruth sounds like one of the same old insufferable elitist commies. They never relent on the propaganda, and they never shrink from expressing their contempt for the intellectual capabilities of the prols. She’s a lecturer and giving “courses”??? Courses where she presumes to instruct on “objectivity??? What a sick joke. She’s a partisan advocate for communism and shouldn’t be within a light year of instructing anybody. Let alone an impressionable youth like you Jafa.

  3. jafapete Says:

    Sorry, BDTR, but the US mainstream media has been quite hard on Obama. More coverage, yes, but that’s because there’s more to cover. That many people believe otherwise shows how impressionable they are to suggestions from McCain of favouritism.

    And, sadly, I am no longer an impressionable youth. Ruth has long since retired. Her colleague Joe Atkinson, who also taught media politics, was a former press gallery journo. Is that more to your satisfaction?

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