I watched with interest Newsnight’s Wenesday night special on citizen journalism. Since all Iranian professional reporters have been barred from commenting on the country’s recent conflicts, the world has turned to Twitter, YouTube and blogs for updates on the Iranian situation.
It just goes to show that in the age of the Internet, it’s nigh on impossible to completely stifle journalism. Life goes on regardless, and even news sources as well-respected as the BBC are turning to the man on the street — or should that be, the man in front of his computer or speaking on his mobile phone — for their informational fix.
People tuning in to tonight’s BBC News could see pixellated, mobile phone-shot footage taken straight from YouTube in the place of regular crystal clear, polished reportage. It may have been lo-tech, but was it necessarily any worse off for it?
You may say that this new age source of news has the capability to be infinitely more biased than your typical centre-right news channel, and this is undeniably true. But is it any different from Jeremy Clarkson’s newspaper column, or a typical review on last night’s television? Well, only in the medium by which it is transmitted.
The truth is that, from time to time, we want bias. We want gritty, real-life stories from people that have experienced this stuff first hand – content undiluted by the need for neutrality and sanitisation.
Like it or not, the blogger is becoming as much a part of journalism as the newspaper editor, the television researcher and that bloke with the deep voice that reads the news on Five Live.