Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Snowstorm Plot: Bloggers 1 - Mainstream Media 0

Yesterday’s failed attempt to oust Brown as Labour Leader is almost certiainly the beginning of a turning point in how this election will be reported, with bloggers and Twitter users breaking the story well before the mainstream media picked up on it.

As early as Tuesday Night Guido Fawkes was hearing rumours that a cabinet level move to oust Brown may be made against Gordon Brown, and continued to firm up rumours reporting them to his web readers and Twitter followers.

The next day on Daily Politics BBC Political editor Nick Robinson was asked the question
“I keep hearing rumours of a leadership challenge. I know nothing all all this stuff. Should I believe any of it?” to which he replied “No you shouldn’t it’s rubbish and isn’t going to happen.”

He then went on to blame bloggers and Twitter users, showing his utter contempt and his condescending manner towards the non mainstream media that is increasingly shaping the reporting of this election rather than himself

“..yesterday was an illustration of the madness we might get into with blogging and tweeting and all the rest of it, bit of gossip, reported reasonably by one or two people turns into poor old Tessa Jowell having to deny she was resigning.... and that then runs on the internet as if it was a real story, and it’s not.”

Then saying in possibly his most condescending tone (which is very condescending indeed)

“In the era of what we’re told is the revolution in journalism, blogging, by some of our friends outside, this becomes what they call a story.”

Of course during PMQs the now infamous letters / emails / texts went from Hoon and Hewitt to all members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, kicking off a leadership challenge. The rumored cabinet level resignation never happened. However there definitely was a leadership challenge, which was what the blogosphere and Twitterverse was lit up by, and the mainstream media continued to deny.

I don’t think that this will be the last story in this election campaign to be broken online first, and ignored as irrelevant by the mainstream media, but I suspect it has been somewhat of a wake up call to those in the media who have looked down on their blogging cousins previously.

However I wasn’t surprised to see a tweet from a sky journalist, although admittedly from Sky News online, poking fun at the way Guido and Tory Bear were joking about picking up Iain Dale's TV punditing for the day.

Of course Guido’s caustic reply said it all for where this election is going

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  1. I broadly agree, the mainstream media has lost the chase on this, and they are in a very long and painful spiral of death and denial.
    The is however one caveat to this. Whilst their tone has become quite bitter and childish on the issue of new media they do still win on one front. This is the same reason why I wait to see BBC news rather than Sky's constant stream of rumour.
    The mainstream broadcasters (usually) test & check the story before it goes to air, whereas new media is still full of conjecture and rumour and there is a distinct lack of quality control.
    Until we in the new media world can learn than it is a marathon & not a sprint, that it is not about being first, it is about being accurate, it will be hard to present a consistent argument about being the new masters of media.

  2. True, but then I think that there is something to be said about a new unfiltered type of journalism and reporting that leaves you to decide whether something is true or not, to make your own mind up based on both sides of an argument and the raw information.

    There is a lot of rushing to be the first to publish a rumour online without the fact checking, but I think of new media journalism as a bit like wikipedia. It's good for getting the basics quickly but if you want the facts you go elsewhere.