For several years now, most of us mainstream bloggers have been loftily contemptuous of paper and television “journalists”. They are ridiculous dinosaurs, say most of us, slaving away fully clothed at desks and at computers that they often don’t even own, pushing prejudices and biases that may not even be theirs, stuck in their own myopic little worlds and blind to the larger forces at work in the world. Worse, these bizarre individuals often insist on tramping about in the open air, talking to people who are, if anything, even more bewildered by the story in question than they are themselves. They need to get out less. Don’t they understand that there’s an internet in there, full of blogs, which they could learn stuff from? And none of these journalists have proper jobs, because this is how they make their living!
Actually, most journalists do make extensive use of the blogosphere. Where would they be without bloggers to supply them with facts and with coherent arguments?
But as for the idea that these journalists, writing in “newspapers”, present any sort of competitive threat to the mainstream blogosphere, well, most of us greet such outlandish notions with a pitying smile at best, and as often as not with loud laughter.
But I believe that we bloggers may be making that common error of confusing the typical with the most significant. Just opening up ten random newspapers and sticking a pin into them ten times, and then reading whatever one happens to encounter, doesn’t do justice to the potential importance of newspaper journalists. Sure, most of what they write is pompous crap recycled from anonymous political or business spin-doctors and gossip-mongers. But the best of the output of these journalists is often well worth reading, and bloggers can often learn useful extra titbits from them.
Obviously, there have to be bloggers to draw the attention of readers to the good stuff in newspapers. Regular people with jobs to do and lives to lead haven’t time to search through great piles of paper every day, looking for the occasional treasures buried in among the landfill. And the average journalist is indeed a bizarre figure, with little in the way of a future. But the best of the journalists are, I would argue, worthy to be ranked alongside the better bloggers, and some bloggers are starting to sit up and take notice.
Still, Pearce is new to questioning climate science, and he hasn’t made a bad fist of this story.
Richard North is taking all this a stage further. Not only does he make extensive use of the reactions of journalists to stories first aired in his and other blogs. He also himself sometimes writes things for a newspaper. He even occasionally appears on television.
Wise moves. We bloggers must guard against complacency. We cannot and must not assume that our current domination of the media world will last indefinitely.