Oct 292010

Caligula’s favourite saying, apparently. “Let them hate, as long as they fear”. I am firmly of the view that we who inhabit the alternative media – blogosphere, twittersphere, even Facebook & it’s similes – should be adopting this saying as our slogan, even watchword.

Why you might ask? Let me digress for a few lines in explanation. There has been for a considerable time now a concerted campaign by some sectors of the Main Stream Media, particularly the Murdoch press in this country, denigrating the alternative media. Why is anyone’s guess, but just a little inspection of the latest happenings – the outing of Greg Jericho (Grog’s Gamut) by a journalist from The Australian stable, and a somewhat headline address by journalist Annabel Crabb at Melbourne University just this Wednesday past – both point to what looks like jealousy, or even fear of what alternative media poses to the Main Stream Media. All manner of excuses for betraying a personal confidence by James Massola of The Oz have appeared in that rag, every one of them transparent as an ideological bias gone mad.

Tim Dunlop, a doyen of the Australian blogworld from earlier this decade, wrote a succinct but pointed piece yesterday in analysis of Crabb’s talk at Melbourne Uni, and it’s well worth a read.

I’m also a bit amazed by this comment from her speech:

To my colleagues in the mainstream media, on the subject of online journalism, I would say: Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. To the blogosphere, I would say: Don’t knock us when we try it. That’s all.

Here’s the thing: they aren’t knocking you. They are telling you to do a better job. When journalists realise that, when they stop being defensive and see criticism for the positive thing that it is, we’ll know that things are changing for the better.

All well & good for Crabb to identify the flaws in her colleague’s demeanour, but let’s not forget that she is one of them. Certainly, she is one who has embraced the benefits of alternative media, but she’s still a professional journo with all of those professional journo prejudices. Dunlop identifies these aspects of her speech in his piece.

From my perspective, Main Stream Media and alternative media (note that I capitalise one but not the other, but don’t infer any deference in that) are destined to remain as opposite poles of the same magnetic attraction UNTIL those on both sides agree, adopt, accept or otherwise put aside their personal biases & prejudices to cross over to the other side. When we see James Massola blogging and Greg Jericho crafting his special brand of op-ed in The Oz, then we’ll know the barriers are beginning to dissolve. Until then, I get the distinct feeling that conservatively biased journalists will continue to ‘out’ what they perceive to be their ideological opposites from the blogosphere and claim they’re acting in the ‘public interest’; while bloggers will continue to band together, deplore the actions of the journalists on their own sites & the twitterverse, effectively ensuring the abyss between the two remains as wide as it’s ever been. Who will blink first is anyone’s guess, but for me, as one of the bloggers and an ardent fan of alternative media with a disdain for the bigotry within the Main Stream Media, I say oderint dum metuant.

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