Murdoch moves on blogosphere?

An interesting speech by Rupert Murdoch discussing the mainstream media’s shortcomings (as he sees it) in embracing the Internet age in an effective manner:

What is happening is, in short, a revolution in the way young people are accessing news. They don’t want to rely on the morning paper for their up-to-date information. They don’t want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what’s important. And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don’t want news presented as gospel.

Instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it. They want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle. Think about how blogs and message boards revealed that Kryptonite bicycle locks were vulnerable to a Bic pen. Or the Swiftboat incident. Or the swift departure of Dan Rather from CBS. One commentator, Jeff Jarvis, puts it this way: give the people control of media, they will use it. Don’t give people control of media, and you will lose them. …

They don’t just want to know about terrorism, but what it means about the safety of their subway line, or whether they’ll be sent to Iraq. And they want the option to go out and get more information, or to seek a contrary point of view.

And finally, they want to be able to use the information in a larger community to talk about, to debate, to question, and even to meet the people who think about the world in similar or different ways. …

For some, it may have to become the place for conversation. The digital native doesn’t send a letter to the editor anymore. She goes online, and starts a blog. We need to be the destination for those bloggers. We need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented.

At the same time, we may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net. There are of course inherent risks in this strategy — chief among them maintaining our standards for accuracy and reliability. Plainly, we can’t vouch for the quality of people who aren’t regularly employed by us and bloggers could only add to the work done by our reporters, not replace them. But they may still serve a valuable purpose; broadening our coverage of the news; giving us new and fresh perspectives to issues; deepening our relationship to the communities we serve. So long as our readers understand the distinction between bloggers and our journalists.

To carry this one step further, some digital natives do even more than blog with text they are blogging with audio, specifically through the rise of podcasting and to remain fully competitive, some may want to consider providing a place for that as well.

Sounds like Murdoch is looking for ways to appropriate blogging and incorporate it into his media empire. Of course, Fairfax has already tried this with dubious success at best, with Margo’s Web Diary and the assorted in-house blogs that hang off it. Arguably, Web Diary’s equivocal success is mostly due to the fact that it has attracted an overwhelmingly anti-Howard/Bush audience and contributor group, thereby excluding around half of its potential audience. Moreover, Margo’s own inimitable writing and editing style tends to give the site a distinctly immature Indymedia-ish flavour.

But I’d be very surprised if any efforts Murdoch might make to incorporate blogging into his online newspaper world turned out to be any less ideologically slanted than Fairfax’s efforts, albeit in an opposite direction. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that; in some respects the two would counterbalance each other, and readers would gravitate to the “virtual community” where they felt most comfortable.

That phenomenon will inevitably occur in any event, as we’ve repeatedly discovered here at Troppo. A significant portion of the left-leaning audience of both Chris Sheil and Mark Bahnisch made it very apparent that they simply didn’t wish to associate with or be subjected at close quarters to significantly more right-leaning views than their own. The same is true in an opposite direction, and to an even more extreme extent, with much of the readership of RWDBs like Tim Blair.

It would be nice if people were less tribal in their instincts and more open to having their views challenged, but the reality is that most aren’t, and neither bloggers nor media moguls like Murdoch can change human nature.

At the end of the day, I suspect Murdoch isn’t going to be wildly successful in “capturing” the anarchic, dynamic, creative, interactive spirit of the blogosphere and turning it into big bucks. And even if he does, bloggers needn’t feel threatened. In fact any large-scale moves Murdoch makes in this direction are likely to benefit the blogosphere by drawing its existence to the attention of many more people.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
This entry was posted in Uncategorised. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
24 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“A significant portion of the left-leaning audience of both Chris Sheil and Mark Bahnisch made it very apparent that they simply didn’t wish to associate with or be subjected at close quarters to significantly more right-leaning views than their own.”

No, I don’t think that’s fair, Ken. I think people were objecting to having their views characterised and that they were (largely) prepared to engage in civilised debate with people who have different views. I certainly am.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’m sorry – “characterised” should read “caricatured”.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

And as evidence of this, I’d also point to the fact that Chris, Zoe, Kim and I have been over at Currency Lad’s place engaging in debate with him and his commenters in recent days in a fairly highly charged (and on the part of some – abusive) thread:

http://thecurrencylad.blogspot.com/2005/04/opposition-pushes-for-global-creche.html

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

This article calls to mind a science fiction novel I read once, whose title I have forgotten, in which modified people ran around with cameras on their heads or eyes or something and provided a continuous news feed on events occurring around them. So whenever anything happened they would converge and all try to get the best pictures. Of course, nasty security forces also used the footage for their own devious ends. Maybe Harry knows what it’s called.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Mark

I was referring to only some commentators, not to yourself, and I don’t think it was an unfair characterisation at all. Nor is it even intended to be critical in any biting way. It’s simply an acknowledgment of the realities of human nature from my own personal blogging experience. It isn’t true of everyone by any means, but it’s certainly much more common than I had imagined for people to resent extensive exposure to opposing viewpoints. There is therefore a felt imperative to create “virtual communities” consisting mostly of persons whose opinions and approach are fairly close to their own. It doesn’t mean they won’t sometimes visit “enemy” encampments or that they’re necessarily incapable of constructive, civil discusssions when they do, but long observation tells me that it’s an undeniable aspect of human nature, and it’s pointless and silly to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

It was partly an emerging appreciation of this phenomenon that cause me to become interested in the “monitorial citizen” concept that I wrote about in my Evatt article a couple of years ago, and further experience has confirmed my initial impression. It seems that there is a severe limit on the extent of ideological differences between participants in civil discussion that can readily be accommodated. Beyond those limits there are so many misunderstandings and miscommunications caused by conflicting assumptions and differing world views, that people tend mostly to talk past each other and continually misunderstand what each other is saying, to the extent that bitterness and interpersonal unpleasantness become almost inevitable. In no way am I suggesting that it’s anyone’s fault, however. Your reaction seems to suggest that you think I’m trying to blame someone for the phenomenon. Perhaps that in itself is an example of the sort of miscommunication I’m talking about.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I largely agree, Ken.

I do think that when worldviews are fundamentally different, that miscommunication increases. I think there are a lot of missed encounters in right/left debates – often because the underlying premises of people’s belief systems are not examined. There’s also the tendency of political discussion generally to be characterised more by seeking to persuade and/or discredit rather than to seek the truth rationally. As things get more heated, that tendency intensifies.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Incidentally, Ken, there’s been a fair bit of discussion about the politics of commenting around the sphere lately, and you’ve stimulated me to rejoin the meta-blogging bandwagon:

http://larvatusprodeo.redrag.net/2005/04/15/comments-policy-considerations/

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I’ve noticed that I like both. There are some sites where I can grumble and rant and belt the sofa with a rolled newspaper and people will say: “Go bro, we know where you are coming from..”

Here no-one is going to lean over and say: “David, that is really not logical. Care to justify yourself?”

There are other sites where I do have to embed my deathless utterances in some sort of justification. This has huge value for obvious reasons. I love the challenge of it.

Troppo of course is basically the latter. What I do get grumpy about is when the debate in this sort of site is really a bunch of tetchy people flailing away at a whole bunch of straw men. It is really infuriating. People actively tell lies about what we in the broad encampment of the Left actually believe. And they turn out to be impervious when we tell them this – they deal in Mark’s “caricatures”.

(Of course the Left does it too. But I do like to think we do it less, and that the general tenor of comments across the blogosphere supports that belief.)

I think that is a factor in the tribalism, that forces us back into our own corner.. However, I reckon that Ken and Troppo are running an ongoing search to encourage Right wingers to inhabit the site who don’t have this really annoying characteristic. Then the encounter is a pleasure.

All hail to the attempt – it is crucial.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken, I would offer a different sort of qualifier, and suggest more generally that frequently the crucial determinant of good discussion per se – blogosphere or elsewhere – is a willingness of participants to accept the base assumptions for the sake of the argument.

Now, fair enough, one ready way in which this occurs is by virtue of bloggers breaking into ideologically like-minded virtual communities, as you say. But this does not necessarily have to be the case. People can group on all sorts of common assumptions, perhaps about sport, about music about different aspects of politics, regardless of their own politics.

What is tiring, or boring, unless you are in a mood for a good food fight, is having the terms of discussion, whatever those terms, political or not, constantly under assault, as if the discussion itself is illegitmate. In other words, it’s not solely that readers do not wish to be associated with different political or whatever views per se, but that they prefer to get on with the discussion, even allowing for the assumptions being contestable (and do we have to be told once again, and so on, and so on).

So I would tend to reverse your lament about so-called ‘tribalism’, and suggest the more or less loosly bordered and shifting formations of virtual blogging communities may as often as not be a sign of a desire for conversation that moves forward. I know this is little more than a tone shift on your words, but for what it’s worth …

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

David

I couldn’t agree more. Rafe Champion over at Catallaxy has a post today about a Michael Costello article in the Oz, which perfectly exemplifies the tendency to create straw men caricatures of “the left”.

As you correctly concede, some commenters of a more social democratic persuasion are equally prone to not dissimilar caricatures of the Right. I don’t have a feeling for which side does it more than the other, and it’s probably not even very useful to think in terms of “sides” anyway.

The trouble is, we’re all to some extent programmed to think in terms of us/them, self\other, friend/enemy that we unthinkingly make false assumptions about what someone else thinks or why they think it. Blogging comment threads are a really useful medium for exploring and resolving those false assumptions and misunderstandings, but only if we can manage to avoid going over the top into ad hominem abuse, and are prepared to give others some elbow room and accept that we actually don’t need to win every debate by a knockout in the second round.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris

I agree. It’s often the fact that one is being drawn into having the same sterile discussion about base assumptions for the fiftieth time. It results in impatience and what may seem like rudeness to a participant who hasn’t been around for the previous 49 reruns of the same point. I wonder how we could go about signalling that reaction in a low key way that doesn’t sound arrogant or patronising, and that allows the debate to move forward without getting people’s backs up?

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Spot on about the sterile assumptions. What gets us past them is often sport and rock and roll. And our religious pasts, most recently.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

“I wonder how we could go about signalling that reaction in a low key way that doesn’t sound arrogant or patronising …”

We unhip dinosaurs of the pre-blogging era sometimes had these documents called Frequently Asked Questions. “Refer to the FAQ” saves a lot of time.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

a couple of years ago an acquaintance introduced me to web cam. I thought it was great, but, the way he was applying it made me think he (and it) was kind of silly.

Last night I watched Webcam girls. Dismissed all but one. She is working with software and traditional theatrical devices to create a kaleidoscope of real time images on the web.

It called into sharp relief the availability of creative audio visual on line. Not just webcam, experimental film etc. It’s an area I’m completely ignorant about. So if anyone can shortcut my learning curve and refer me to some good sites I’ll look them up on Monday. At work.
(I had a look at ZeD, but with dial up it’s too slow.)

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Yeah, I can just see Foxblogs! as a cutting – edge news gathering and analysis medium , driven from the grassroots up.

Rupert’s just talking smack.

And Jen, here’s a few creative a/v websites doing arty and wierdo stuff that takes advantage of the medim,”

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Yeah, I can just see Foxblogs! as a cutting – edge news gathering and analysis medium , driven from the grassroots up.

Rupert’s just talking smack.

And Jen, here’s a few creative a/v websites doing arty and wierdo stuff that takes advantage of the medim,”

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Yeah, I can just see Foxblogs! as a cutting – edge news gathering and analysis medium , driven from the grassroots up.

Rupert’s just talking smack.

And Jen, here’s a few creative a/v websites doing arty and wierdo stuff that takes advantage of the medim,”

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Oppies. Please feel free to delete the second two of tthe hree coments. Nothing to do with yer systems, just me tipsy and sking on one ski.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

You are a disgrace Nabbers.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

That’s Dis Grace to you, cs.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Would you like to repeat that nbkv? Or more?

jen
jen
2022 years ago

thankyou Nabs all shortcuts in this life are very much appreciated.

boynton
2022 years ago

jen, just found this one:

http://www.turbulence.org/blog/index.html

looks good.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Boynton

..and what a one!

Ondulation

here is a world I keep forgetting is there
lost touch in the middle age anxiety of family and property and aspirations to ‘normality’
and I can go there even from Darwin and extreme mainstream
can have my cake and eat it too!
haven’t even thought about Rauschenberg or any of that lot for much too long
the baby went out with the bath water
ta