Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Impact of The New Media

The Adam Smith Institute held a reception on Monday the 5th of March, entitled "The Impact of the New Media". It was interesting. The Adam Smith Institute blog has its own write up here, but this is my take.

The event was supposed to start with a half hour of discussion followed by drinks, but was far more civilised than that, starting with a half hour or so of drinks, followed by the discussion followed by more drinks, until they ran out when we all piled next door to the pub.

Stephan Shakespeare of 18 Doughty Street and YouGov fame kicked off.

He made a number of points. Now the BBC is allowing its content to go out on YouTube, it in effect allows itself to be undermined. Once it is there anyone can comment on it, and indeed use it to their own ends. Blogging it seems is undermining traditional media.

He then moved on to discuss how blogging would affect future elections. Apparently in a survey of young people they were asked if they had to give up one of the following 3 things, television, mobile phone or Internet which would it be. Overwhelmingly it is the television. It seems clear that the new media is going to grow and grow.

Interestingly, whilst blogs allow anyone to have a voice, that is not quite the case with places like Conservative Home, or 18 Doughty Street, both of which, in Stephan's view allow people just below the existing establishment to have a voice. It does still widen the political discourse though.

Stephan also feels that this will see the audience fracturing. After all there will be much more choice and many more providers. That being the case the big providers now will lose audiences to various Internet sources. This, Stephan felt would lead to a fracturing of politics as well.

I agree with a lot of what Stephan said, but am not convinced that political parties will fracture because there is a lot of advantages to the big coalitions that political parties are.

Fraser Nelson of the Spectator spoke next. he felt like a beta max salesman addressing a VHS conference!

Blogs it seems have shaken the dead tree press. For example Recess Monkey posted this story on Monday just after midnight alleging Margaret Thatcher was dead. Now that had many on the blogosphere running around in a blind panic trying to find out if there was any truth to it. What I didn't realise but Fraser told us, was that it had the same effect on fleet street with panicked journalists ringing around trying to find confirmation. When Margaret's team switched their mobiles on in the morning their answering service was full of messages asking if she was dead. Of course Recess Monkey was the victim of a hoax, and published a not very complimentary retraction here.

Fraser also highlighted the fact that the blogosphere is littered with the blogs of dead tree journalists which are going nowhere. It seems they just don't get how and why blogs work.

It seems that the new media is taken more seriously by politicians, or at least team Cameron. The Cameroonians believe that new media gives more direct access to people and are less concerned with the dead tree press and MSM. New Labour on the other hand are still in thrall to Fleet Street.

Tim Worstall made a couple of interesting points. If blogs destroy the establishment they will become it. However Tim thinks that bloggers will infiltrate the media, by being invited to write for it! (note to editors, if you want to to write an article for you, all you have to do is use the Email Me link on the right, and let me know how much you will pay :) ) So Fleet street will not be packing its bags and going away.

Bruce Anderson was also there, and piped up with a few interesting and amusing observations. He believes that the DTP and MSM have lost their monopoly. Blogging should make the MSM do better and keep it on its toes.

Bruce also had some amusing observations on the spectator. Apparently Boris Johnson was a lightweight editor, but under Matthew d'Ancona the editing is leaden.

Apparently, according to Bruce, the Spectator oscillates from tedium to sycophancy. I don't think Bruce is Matthew d'Ancona's biggest fan, but I may be wrong.

During the questions session afterwards someone who seemed to be from the DTP popped up to ask how bloggers intend to make money from their blogs? With things like pay per article? I popped up to say I don't think most bloggers care. It is true if a blogger gets a lot of traffic they might sell advertising, but that is no why we blog.

Afterwards I had a few conversations with people. One such was with Nicholas Jones, a journalist formerly of the BBC for some 30 years. He was expressing some concern over the way the Murdoch empire is looking to set the news agenda both for the MSM and the blogosphere by buying up big stories like the Jane Goody interview and the cockpit video of that friendly fire incident. His concern was that this arm of the media is unregulated. If they get their websites together and he feels they will then they could be more influential at the next election.

There is some truth is this view. After all we also had the Guardian breaking that police 'brutality' story on Wednesday via Newsnight. In many ways news papers who have been eclipsed by both TV and radio are now hitting back with websites with multimedia content.

That said I am not quite sure how much of a problem this is. After all we have blogs like Guido's and Iain Dale's setting the agenda as well. In many ways I can only see the power of blogs increase and whilst Murdoch's empire may grow at the expense of his rivals the market place for news and opinion is now forever changed by blogs.

I mentioned some of the bloggers I met at the event in this article here, but others I met include Andrew Dodge, Perry de Havilland of samizdata.net, and Philip Chaston of the bewilderness blog.

14 comments:

Conservative and Proud !!!! said...

Although I am getting on in years and have only recently been introduced to broad band I understand what you are getting at.

The Government cannot 'get it' but Cameron does. Thank goodness for that!!!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fascinating post. What a cicilised symposium - starting with drinks and continuing with, well, drinks! I think blogs have shaken the msm - otherwise why would online newspapers be using blogging journalists themselves? - and it's good to know that their journalists were running here, there and everywhere trying to verify the Thatcher story as well. Could it possibly come about that developments like blogging, which give everyone the chance to have their say, may eventually deprive terrorists of one of their excuses - ie., that they have no access to the mass media??

Anonymous said...

The blog is an extension of the person who's blog it is ,very individualised ,s/he's the editor ,s/he set's the commentry some are good ,some are better,I can't see how the dead tree press come into it,the blogger can change his post in seconds but the dead tree press can't ,neither can tv,as a commentator I can input ideas ,have a good rant ,a good joke ,even swear (I don't),if nobody agree's with me I am soon told ,as they say it's interactive ,if politician's read blogs then they know what the public are thinking ,so maybe we will get a democracy back ,but I don't think so.

Just keep writing and I will read.

Benedict White said...

Conservative and Proud, I am pleased you're pleased :)

Welshcakes, Interesting comments on terrorism. I have to wonder because the net is seen as a way of recruiting and radicalising them however if it gives others a voice maybe that will temper things?

Anonymous, Yes that is the way it works. Instant and interactive. That said you can run into problems just reading blogs and the like because the miffed shout loudest.

It is a great platform though.

Ellee said...

I was surprised there were so many "old media" there, I guess to repor on the event, though I didn't see a write up in The Spectator, unless I missed it. I did enjoy meeting Stephan, Fraser, Tim Worstall and lots of others too, including your good self.

Anonymous said...

Good post spoiled by using bollocks like MSM and DTP. This crap wouldn't be tolerated on Radio 4 so don't use it here. DTP could mean Desk Top Publishing for fuck's sake. Childish.

Peter the Punter said...

Benedict - I have occasionally been asked why i don't have a blog and the simple answer is I wouldn't know where to begin. I assume from the number around that it isn't difficult.

But where exactly do I begin?

Benedict White said...

Peter the easiest way would be to get some one with gmail account to send you an invite, then get a gmail account, extend it to a blogger account and take it from there.

Do you want an invite? If so email me.

fr said...

Symposium originally referred to a drinking party (the Greek verb sympotein means "to drink together").

james higham said...

...far more civilised than that, starting with a half hour or so of drinks, followed by the discussion followed by more drinks, until they ran out when we all piled next door to the pub...

This is a very important point you've made in your post. The need for applied alcohol. Your points on blogging were also to the point.

Peter the Punter said...

Benedict - Thanks for that.

Yes I'd like that, but not right now. It's hard for me to think of anything but next week's Festival at the moment.

I am sure you understand.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous at 11:34 March 10th, Sorry about that, I had used the term Dead Tree Press all over the place, and DTP is just short for that, MSM is short for main stream media which is TV and the DTP. Sorry for the jargon.

Fr, I am pleased we had a "symposium" :)

James, Thanks for that. It was a very civilised event!

Peter, email me when you want a hand.

the zoom said...

Did Clinton fire her first shot?

This is from the NY Times on Al Gore. Looks like he is preparing to run for president and the Clinton camp is worried.

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype

Benedict White said...

Zoom, there appears to be no link.