Psst, hey you there — did you hear about the bloke at number 29? The pensioner who was sent to prison for assaulting a burglar?! It's the third case of its kind round ere y'know …Journalism, whether we like it or not, can be nothing more than a game of Chinese whispers.
At its best - explosive, at its worst it, just mindless prattle. But opinion is always based on facts or the illusion of facts. It is this that journalists must decipher to uncover the truth.
Blogging, as first defined by Rebecca Blood in The Weblog Handbook is a "coffee house conversation in text," and represents the first link in the journalistic chain.
As a blogger you are a self-publicising columnist — you reveal your own opinion, your own research on any subject of your choosing. It is not a case of simply regurgitating the facts of the day — material that is already in the public domain.
A quick history lesson: Blogging was first conceived to break the stranglehold of mainstream media outlets. Traditionally, the media had the job of keeping the powers that be in check. However, through the advance of social welfare and the evolution of large private interests, newspapers have become business motivated and devoted to profit rather than good journalism, particularly at the 'red to' tabloid end of the market. The press has turned into an agent of manipulation rather than representation.
Indeed, news media outlets are manufactured by people and institutions with money, moral clout, or other forms of power. For example the Murdoch Empire, encompassing News International (print) Sky and Fox news (broadcast). The mass media, therefore, is equivocal. It acts both as the vehicle for competitive spectacles and as the source of news.
News producers, even those like the BBC which are free of direct commercial pressures, have been required to become more orientated towards ratings, subordinating the journalistic obligation to inform, educate and to entertain. The result of these pressures has been an explosion of "infotainment," journalism in which entertainment values take precedence over information content, in order to appeal to a larger audience.
As a result bloggers and citizen journalists become all the more important.
Blogging, if done well, that is not perpetuating the domination of current media outlets who have tried to co-opt it, can be thought-provoking, informative and entertaining at the same time, have the ability to set the news agenda. This method has made the likes of Iain Dale, Jeff Jarvis and Martin Stabe such leading figureheads in the blogosphere.
This pitch to would-be citizen journalists from The-Latest sums up completely what the art of blogging is all about: "We uncover news about almost forgotten subjects or information some people would rather you did not read. We keep tabs on news that doesn't get reported from the angle you want. We have fun as well."
Blogging has become the new fourth estate — it is a vehicle that can empower the people. Put them back in the driving seat of news dissemination. The more you blog the more website hits you will achieve for your writing and the greater your influence will be on the news agenda.
New Direction — by Tom Miller, is a fascinating blog, he is prolific in his campaigning for worthwhile issues and people and as such has gained notoriety for his positions and has managed to influence the political agenda of Labour, the party to which he belongs and wants to drag to the left . He believes that blogging is a vital cog in a democratic society.
He said: "I do it for the satisfaction of knowing I can give my own side of the story in a way that can never be reported due to the way that newspapers are structured. It is also great in the way you can interact with people. Your stories are instantly accessible to nearly everyone, anywhere in the world. I often get pages of comments just from a single blog post. It is like sticking two fingers up at the man in the editor's chair."
* Phil Simms is a regular contributor to The-Latest. He has just gained a first class degree from Britain's premier journalism school at City University, London.