Monday, January 17, 2011

Ahead of the game

I don't recall the exact time, or even whether I made a conscious decision, but at some time fairly recently I resolved to distance this blog still further from the MSM and its attempts to dominate the news agenda. For long enough, we have argued that the poison of the MSM is as much in what it tells us is important, as what it actually tells us – the fact that it expects us to fall in with its values.

It has, therefore, been something of a delight to have followed the Okhotsk Sea crisis so closely, even adding to what the Russians were telling us, and anticipating some of their moves. This makes blogging fun, as well as important. We are adding value. Equally, it is encouraging to see other blogs take up the cudgels and cover issues, either in parallel or separately, and we are always very pleased to link to them, blogs like Autonomous Mind, SubrosaBiased BBC and Witterings from Witney (who is doing extremely good work).

Here, though, there is one of the few agreements I had with Iain Dale. His dictum was: if you don't link to me, I don't link to you. It took some bloggers an inordinate amount of time to learn this lesson, and some still do not seem to be able to grasp the principle. But I have no time for the prima donnas or the "precious" bloggers who think they must "own" an issue in order to discuss it, and present themselves to their readers as the only toilers in the vineyard.

With that, one can only express an element of pride in the way bloggers, in Australia and here, have been leading the field in unravelling the events behind the tragic floods in Queensland. The essence was recorded by Booker yesterday, the first British MSM journalist to step outside the box, rehearsing events which the Australian media is only just beginning to look at.

As we, the bloggers, more and more frequently set our own agendas, this would be to no avail if the readers were not there. But, of late, those that do the work – this blog included – are experiencing healthy increases in readership numbers. Individually, our hit rate may be small but, collectively, we have a huge reach and those of us who work together (albeit informally) are reaping the benefit of such co-operation.

The MSM, on the other hand, become but shallow bulletin boards. With rare exceptions, they do not inform us any longer - merely they identify stories that we, the bloggers, can look at. We can then research them properly (there will always be bloggers who know more than the media about a given subject), and post without the (self-imposed) pressures and limitations of the dead tree press and their equally lame broadcasting counterparts.

Given the way MSM circulations are declining, we'll still be there when some of them have gone. By then, we hope, even the politicians will have woken up to where the action is ... although they may be gone too, judging from current performance. On the other hand, blogging is beginning to come of age. We are ahead of the game.