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By Steven | September 26, 2010

This week’s MediaWatch show on Radio NZ is billed like this:

Mediawatch looks at the impact of the ‘new media’ on the old. Can online amateurs really replace the professional journalism of today? Is it already happening? And if so – what effect is it having on standards?

This promised to be interesting – particularly since blogger Andrew Geddis at Pundit last week identified a humiliating blunder in the prisoners-votes-disqualification bill, a stuff-up that was then picked up by the mainstream media. A nice topical demonstration of the worth of the blogosphere, you might think. A good illustration of the way some expert bloggers are adding to the national conversation. An example of online amateurs and professional journalists working in sync.

Of course that’s not all we’ve heard from Geddis in the last couple of weeks. He and Dean Knight exposed the staggering width of the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act – a much more significant issue, and one that the professional journalists have by and large dropped the ball on. That was a case of bloggers’ standards plainly rising above those of the mainstream media.

But MediaWatch didn’t mention those stories at all. Apart from a vague reference to stories broken by blogger David Farrar (whose name MediaWatch pronounced incorrectly), there was no discussion of the range of stories and analysis (often ahead of the MSM, often more penetrating, and sometimes even more ethical) on our leading blogs. Instead, the focus was on WhaleOil (though there was time for a gratuitous swipe at Farrar for a minor slip-up that wasn’t even on his blog). The MediaWatch folk made the sensible point that Mr Oil’s ethics leave something to be desired, and the MSM could stand to be a little less credulous about his posts. But this was hardly advancing the broad issue the programme had raised.

This is not to say that the blogosphere isn’t largely full of tripe and blather. It’s to say that this of all weeks offered a terrific illustration of the virtues of the blogosphere. Did MediaWatch not notice? I’m not sure this shows up the professional journalists at MediaWatch in a particularly glowing light.

Topics: General | 1 Comment »

One Response to “MediaBotch”

  1. sidney Says:
    October 2nd, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Agreed! The starting point for such discussions is always on the extent to which the blogosphere is parasitic upon MSM. But MSM does not look at how parasitic it is on the blogosphere. Used to be (as a former journo) that stories broken by a competitor were at least sometimes credited as such (not often enough in my view), but that’s simply never even been considered when stories originate in the blogosphere. Why not? Because journalists seem to consider that if they got a story from a blog, they (the journalist) broke that story. (A blog is a ‘source’ not a competitor.) If MSM actually credited info and stories sourced in the blogosphere, what a different picture it would paint. I’m not sure how to change this, if it can be changed, or if bloggers should even bother. I, personally, only wish that MSM (print) in NZ was being hit as hard by the Net as MSM in, say, the U.S. Perhaps when we get decent broadband coverage this will happen. I hope so. Our gatekeepers are by now well past their best-by date.


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