“It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news–and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened,” Murdoch said.
“Today, editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren’t satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog, and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven’t always responded well when the public calls them to account.”
To make his point, Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a 60 Minutes report by former CBS anchor Dan Rather that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.
“Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively,” Murdoch said.
“During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. 60 Minutes, he said, was a professional organization with ‘multiple layers of checks and balances.’ By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as ‘a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.’ Eventually, it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Rather and his producer to resign.”
… Rupert Murdoch talks about new media in the Cnet News article Murdoch To Media: You Dug Yourself A Huge Hole
Traditional Barbados Media Becoming Citizens’ Second Choice For News
Barbados has one of the most vibrant and nationally-influential blogging communities in all the world. That seems like quite a statement until one considers that as a small island nation, Barbados has a population of fewer than three hundred thousand and a tightly controlled news media that usually defers to the government of the day. Not to mention the archaic libel laws that stifle journalism and limit public discussion.
Anonymous blogs flourish in such an environment. Their ability to publish stories that the traditional media won’t touch means that blogs are here to stay in Barbados. The “big frog – small pond” syndrome means that individual Barbados blogs have far more importance and influence than in larger markets like the United States or the U.K.
Bajan Blogs Influencing The Public Agenda
Remember when the Barbados news media covered-up the 3S Flyover Scandal for two weeks by failing to report that the President of the company was being sued for fraud? To refresh you memory read BFP’s Triumph Of The Blogs’ Print Editions – Nation News Shamed Into Reporting Fraud Allegations Against Barbados Flyover Contractor, But Their Carefully Managed Story Still Communicates A Lie
Remember how both the BLP and DLP were shamed by the blogs into promising integrity legislation? Some folks believe that without the blogs, the Owen Arthur BLP government would have held onto power for one more term.
Whatever their views on whether or not the blogs were the tipping point of the recent Barbados election, political pundits must admit that blogs are now an important part of public social and political debate and that any government ignores them at their peril.
The most recent example of blogs and people-power is the popular call for the creation of Graeme Hall National Park. Blogs played an integral part in publicising a “free day” at the nature sanctuary that saw eight-thousand people visit the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary on one Sunday. When the regular news media incorrectly reported that “hundreds” (as opposed to the true figure of eight-thousand) visited the sanctuary, both Barbados Free Press and Bajan Reporter broadcast the truth and once again embarrassed the regular media into correcting their “inaccurate” reporting.
Government Cannot Have Blogs Or The Press Setting Their Agenda, But…
All this brings us to the current Barbados Government of Prime Minister David Thompson. The Prime Minister has been conspicuously silent on the issue of Graeme Hall National Park, but we have no doubt that he is considering everything to do with the park and sanctuary very carefully. He knows that eight-thousand Bajans coming out on one day and three thousand joining the Save the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary FaceBook group in one week are serious indicators that ordinary citizens are mobilising in support of Graeme Hall National Park.
No, Prime Minister Thompson won’t let the blogs or any newspaper set his government’s agenda… but he is no fool. Thousands of Bajans have spoken out to preserve the Graeme Hall wetlands for future generations. Our bet? David Thompson the skilled politician and peacemaker is trying to find a way to explain reality to the greedy developers who had they eyes on the wetlands buffer zone.
Those developers had betta pay attention to the numbers because we are entering a new era in Bajan politics. Anyone who tries to build on the Graeme Hall wetlands will see eight thousand people marching on their home.
And Leroy Paris… why don’t you just assure the folks that you have no intents to build on the Graeme Hall buffer zone? Thanks!