Why YOU Should Enter The New Media Age

It is a truth universally acknowledged by all sides of Australian politics that when it comes to political reporting, the Australian media is a complete and utter joke.

With only a few exceptions (Michelle Grattan springs to mind), the press gallery has long ceased to engage in substantive, investigative journalism. Instead, we get regurgitation of press releases and uncritical acceptance of the party line on one hand, and the blow up of non-existent scandals to create sensationalism and sell papers on the other. Controversies are manufactured, and facts are rarely an issue. I think everyone involved in politics has numerous stories of either how a)they bamboozled the media or b)how stories on which they were the subject were essentially fabrications.  Indeed, in comparison to the Canberra press corp (and its state counterparts), the current affairs satire Frontline would be a beacon of journalistic ethics and fine practices.

Relishing their role as the gatekeepers of information, the media pick and choose which stories to run, and what controversies to reveal. When it suits them, affairs are uncovered, indiscretions revealed, and even the behavior of junior staff make national news headlines. At other times, identical stories never see the light of day: events are constantly controlled and manipulated to suit the agenda of the press and fit whatever narrative they think will sell that day.

When it comes to international news, stories rarely pass the laughter test (I still occasionally print off Ann Davies articles here and distribute them to people for a laugh  – I recall one that was so far removed from reality, that everyone was convinced it was actually from The Onion!), and often appear days late.

To those of us on the small government side, there is an additional problem: the entrenched statist bias of the media corp. With the possible exception of the Australian’s editorial board, all Australian media outlets are sharply statist both in editorial stance, and in actual journalism. Whether it be the populism of the Telegraph and network TV, or the hard-left bias of the Fairfax press, there is no real avenue for classical liberal thought to be expressed, outside a few opinion writers. There is no opportunity to engage with the real intellectual battles of the day, and learn from the true greats of small-government ideology.

But imagine if this was not the case.

Imagine a world where you had instant access to events from around the world as they happened.

Imagine a world where you could read real thought-provoking analysis, and real coverage of news.

Imagine a world where you had instant access to the top economists, the top legal minds, the best political scientists from around the world – reading their daily thoughts, learning from their insights.

And then, imagine a world where you not only read the words of such people, but had the opportunity to actually interact with them.

Welcome, my friends, to the world of blogging and ‘new media’.

In Australia, serious political figures look askance at blogging. The image prevails of obese unemployed men sitting in basement in their pajamas, furiously pounding the keyboard and spouting utter drivel.

Such a stereotype, however, is not only inaccurate, it is a serious hindrance to our political evolution.

Why? Because new media connects you – as an individual – to the greatest minds from across the globe. It gives you a personal connection to the trending debates of the day, and allows you access to Nobel Laureates, political leaders, and opinion-shapers in a way you could only dream about a few years ago.

Blogs like Café Hayek give you access to some of the top free market economists in the world – commenting daily on things as they happen. Volokh Conspiracy has undoubtedly the best legal minds in the US, and think tank blogs, like Cato@Liberty post daily output on the political issues of the day. If you want ideological political commentary, Redstate posts an aggregate of the best writings on the conservative side of US politics, and sites like The Next Right provide a forum for those seeking change in the GOP to express their views.

We are certainly not missing such sites in Australia. Catallaxy , for instance, has writers like Prof. Sinclair Davidson, one of Australia’s few free market economists, and Andrew Norton’s blog has an analysis of education in Australia better than anywhere else.  Even from a non-right perspective, blogs like Pollbludger and Tally Room, provide electoral analysis light years superior to any you would get in the media (although I must add that despite him working for the ABC, Antony Green’s blog is defiantly also well worth a read). Indeed, the growing proliferation of blogs by Liberals will more and more become a way to measure the true ‘pulse’ of party members.

And the list goes on. (I plan to write a list of ‘blogs you should follow’ sometime soon).

A further advantage, often missed, is that of blogs as a ‘filter’. We political types are in an information industry, and, particularly if we’re interested in world affairs, can often get swamped by the sheer amount of news out there. The result? We spend time reading drivel, and miss good stories that we really should read. Here again blogs help. By following the blogs you like, you can create a filter for yourself of the information YOU like to received – personalised and tailored to how YOU like it. Blogs, after all, often link to relevant stories, and you will have access to stories you would have never seen otherwise.

And of course, there is the main advantage – interaction. Blogs are not static. Unlike the media, where the journo speaks from on high and the masses listen, they are living, dynamic things. People comment, the author responds, and a true, two-way dialogue takes place. This is how knowledge is truly created.

Now, how do you go about doing this effectively? Most people I know who read blog sites do this haphazardly – either when they remember to check out a site, or when it’s linked on facebook. At the risk of going into even more ‘new media for dummies’ (for I know at least some of my readers know this already and are just rolling their eyes now), there is an easier way: an rss feed.

For the uninitiated, this is a service that will ‘stream’ ever blog that you subscribe to, and aggregate them all into an easy format for you to receive. So effectively you can skim through the blogs, see what you’re interested in, and go from there. So you can keep track of the writers and topics that interest you, and follow exactly what you want to follow –  makes things a lot easier! Google Reader is probably the easiest to start with, but there are many services you can choose from.

So, in conclusion, not hard to do, it will benefit you, and believe me, you won’t regret it! What are you waiting for? Set up a feed, subscribe to some blogs, and join the conversation!

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10 Responses to “Why YOU Should Enter The New Media Age”

  1. Ross Grove Says:

    New media has its place. I am concerned however that there are individuals (MLCs and Senators) who use the medium not to further public debate of the Liberal cause in the electorate but to connect and gather support for their power base come preselection – but irrespective of the media that has always been the case.

    The other thing that bothers me is the number of geriatric National Party MPs I have on my facebook list but never hear from.

    Having facebook friends is not the beginning and end. It just shows they’re paying the medium lip service. People need to use it to build their credibility.

  2. Ross Grove Says:

    Sleep deprivation is my excuse for the incoherence of my previous comment. Spelling seems okay though.

  3. Sean Says:

    Tim, you’re absolutely correct that blogging offers a great opportunity to break the pro-statist and pro-corporatist media stranglehold. In the UK, the libertarian Guido Fawkes (www.order-order.com) has broken a number of scandals and recently got a senior special advisor to the PM fired. ConservativeHome also allows people from the Tories to argue for change within the party. Sadly, Australia has not yet reached this level of online sophistication.

  4. Sean Says:

    Tim, you’re absolutely correct that blogging offers a great opportunity to break the pro-statist and pro-corporatist media stranglehold. In the UK, the libertarian Guido Fawkes (www.order-order.com) has broken a number of scandals and recently got a senior special advisor to the PM fired. ConservativeHome also allows people from the Tories to argue for change within the party. Sadly, Australia has not yet reached this level of online sophistication.
    BTW I love your blog!

  5. Otto - The L Party Says:

    Excellent work Tim, I see you mentioned a few noteworthy North American sites; fact is, as I am sure you would know, you have only touched the surface of the many worth noting.

    In addition to contributing via feed subscriptions and the like, I would encourage young conservative libs to begin blogging themselves. In doing so, it is hoped that some of them would go some way in making up for the journalistic/political online mediocrity we have become accustomed to in Australia.

    The Future of News author Steve Boriss recently hailed the rise of blogging over traditional journalism:

    “Blogging allows rumors to be followed by updates, journalism doesn’t. Bloggers are independent of oversight by editors who slow down publication while removing the style, opinion, rumors, risk, and edge. Journalists aren’t. Oh, and there’s one more difference. Blogging is growing because news consumers prefer all of the above. Journalism isn’t.” http://thefutureofnews.com/2008/03/04/could-blogging-simply-be-journalism-without-the-organizational-overhead-that-makes-news-worse/

    I expect that Bloggers and the media’s uneasy co-existence shall continue for some time yet… Not meaning to sound exceedingly defensive of the latter, fact is, we bloggers do rely on big media for information, for mine the fun part involves the intermittent non-acceptance and dissection facet of what some have called, citizen journalism.

    It was late last year that I wrote some about the importance of blogging as against traditional journalism and was fascinated at some of the comments generated by my American followers. Here’s a sample:

    “Now, about the issue of blogging and journalism, there’s change happening. Traditional journalism, at least the elite-controlled version that America enjoys(?), will have to adapt or become a specialty niche in the information marketplace. What strikes me is how similar the general style of bloggers is, to the 1880s newspapers in post-frontier North Dakota that I used to read. Both have an in-you-face attitude, and a refreshing mix of unabashed bias coupled with colorful reporting of facts. It’s generally possible to sort out fact from opinion: particularly since the opinions are so explicitly stated. Exciting times we live in.”

    “I go to the mainstream to find out if something happened then to blog sites to find out what it was that happened.”

    “The main reason for the medias problem with blogging is because it proves that we are no longer the brain dead followers of biased news coverage that was the case when the big three, NBC, CBS, and ABC ruled the airways.”

    “I think people like blogs because they are based on truth, most times and they are refreshing. Being a writer (Pajamas media) I can tell you that the MSM has left little to be desired and sadly the cable networks are treading thin these days with their own bias’s. People come to blogs now for the news, truth, and even when they disagree, at least they know they are not dealing with some journalist who is piled high in deep.”

    “I think blogging is an excellent source for analysis. Further, blogging is decidedly tribal in fashion. Most blogs are decidedly slanted, politically or otherwise. Journalism traditionally maintains a red line between reporting (fair and balanced) and opining. Moreover, yes, there is a slant to various news agencies but they sell their product as “objective.” Blogging on the other hand conflates the reporting with subjective analysis. For the blogger, it enables one to connect in fashions that would otherwise be impossible. Traffic is great but maintaining an intellectual network that transcends physical and (in some cases)
    “If they truly think rumor is only good for blogs, they haven’t read/watched the papers/news lately. There seems to be more fact-checking going on in the blogosphere than dinosaur media.”

    “True that. “Slowing down production” is what research is all about. Plus, in the new millenium readers are more likely to prefer research rich posts. IDK about ya’ll – but researching, verification, translation and learning a little something about what the heck you are covering will not only be desired – it’ll be essential. There will be causalities along the way. Certain sites that routinely enjoy linking to one AP article and then ranting away will be among the first.”

    Accrodingly, I agree, “it will benefit”, As Tim says, “set up that feed” and dive in …

  6. Tim Andrews Says:

    Ross – I completely agree, and will post on that a bit more later. Note that this post was limited specifically to people reading blogs – step 1 only! The whole web 2.0 thing I will cover a bit later 🙂

    Sean – completely agree on conservative home – I think on guido Australia has some equivalents, but I think its the blogging tories that we realy need to look at emulating. And thanks for the compliment!

    Otto – yes I know that I only scratched the surface – hopefully will put up a more complete list of good blogs sometime soon – suggestions are welcome! Also obviously agree they should start blogging , and we’re seeing a few start ups recently, but reading is the first step! Where’s the link to wherey ou wrote that also can I ask?

  7. Otto - The L Party Says:

    Tim, I wrote it at a former blog of mine http://americasinterests.blogspot.com/

    The actual post link is http://americasinterests.blogspot.com/2008/03/why-we-like-blogs.html

    Here’s a brief list of notable blogs you may consider for inclusion in a future post on the subject:

    http://americasinterests.blogspot.com/2008/03/why-we-like-blogs.html
    http://www.gregrlawson.com/
    http://ponderingpenguin.blogspot.com/
    http://pasadenaclosetconservative.blogspot.com/
    http://neocon-outlook.blogspot.com/
    http://neoconexpress.blogspot.com/
    http://soobdujour.blogspot.com/
    http://conservativehawk.com/
    http://thenewrepublicans.net/
    http://greensrealworld.blogspot.com/
    http://westernexperience.wordpress.com/

    Indeed there are many many more …hope the list is clear if not find my email on blog profile page and request to send again …
    Regards from Melbourne …

  8. Otto - The L Party Says:

    The link you ask of pertains to a former blog of mine:
    http://americasinterests.blogspot.com/
    It was a March 2008 post, “Why we like blogs”
    Incidentally, I have not posted at American Interests since January and yet the blog still gets many more unique hits than my present L Party blog not to mention the many emails I receive in relation to same. At its height, 23 of its posts were published online at the likes of Reuters and Chicago Sun Times …the reach of blogs is amazing… See http://tinyurl.com/ko5ayu
    I can point you to many a links of conservative U.S. blogs upon request by email. Find my address via profile page at my blog …

  9. Blogs YOU Should Follow « The musings of an Australian classical liberal in Washington DC Says:

    […] YOU Should Follow By Tim Andrews Two days ago I posted a call for Australian Liberals to start engaging themselves in the wide world of the blogosph…, and to set up RSS feeds and the like. The obvious question, however, is where to start – who […]

  10. “Utegate” « Catholicism and Liberty Says:

    […] – but then, I have very little faith in Australia’s media these days. As Tim said in this blog post: With the possible exception of the Australian’s editorial board, all Australian media […]

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