Friday, February 02, 2007
Two big stories of a very specific genre are now running side by side. One is Gordon Brown and the Smith Institute, the other is Tony Blair and cash for peerages. The genre is Dirty Dealings at the Heart of Government (DDHG) and it is a familiar - indeed, a perennial - filler of news schedules. The political fallout from these two particular examples of the genre is, as yet, unknowable. But the media fallout is clear. The bloggers have climbed to the top of the news tree. I am not speaking about myself. I don't break news here because my first obligation is to The Sunday Times and I don't do politics very much because, most of the time, my eyes glaze over with boredom at the day to day doings of ugly, mad people in Westminster. It is the political bloggers - notably Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes - who have come out on top. The reason is that DDHG stories move very quickly and individual developments are extremely hard to assess. Naturally cautious mainstream media, as a result, always tend to be slightly behind. Wildly incautious bloggers - Guido in particular - have no such problems. Ah, you may say, but are they accurate? That isn't the point. The momentum, the climate, the flavour, of both these stories is the issue - what they mean, not what they are - and that, I am increasingly convinced, has been generated by the rhythm and tone of the blogs. Furthermore, it is evident that certain bloggers are becoming hubs or clearing houses for a good deal of Westminster score-settling, rumour-propagating and idea-floating. This makes them, for the mainstream media, essential. All of which isn't the triumph of citizen journalism which the most frenzied boosters of bloggery have been promising. But it is something, a fundamental change in the pace and nature of our public spaces perhaps.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:35 am