The news that the Sun newspaper has taken its hat off to David Cameron and the Conservative party has been met with glee by me and many others. However, exactly how much of an impact this will have on votes is not quite as certain as it was in 1997, when they famously did the same for Labour, as the Campbell diaries reveal ‘the fruit of three years hard work’.
The reason for this is the advancing role the internet plays in news reporting. Blogs, Twitter and many sites provide free, on the minute, as it happens news which many people access from the workplace, the kitchen table, or study in their own home. They no longer have to wait until the next day to pay for a newspaper to tell them news the blogs may have already been running for 20hrs.
Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale and the legendary Guido Fawkes lead the field in news blogging. Each can boast equal daily readership comparable to some of the widest read paid for papers.
Yesterday, Iain rightly took exception to a slanderous and offensive slur printed against him in the Daily Mail and immediately exposed it on his blog.
The support he was given via an immediate rally of offended citizens responding to his disclosure on the blog will guarantee his complaint to the PCC will be under scrutiny.
At the beginning of the week, Tim ran a poll of his readers to discover their attitude towards the Daily Telegraph. Today his piece on ConservativeHome and the subsequent comments, highlight the failing political reporting of the Telegraph. More tellingly, Tim reports the way in which he was berated by a Telegraph journalist for having published editorial earlier in the year which may not have been entirely favourable to the newspaper.
During Easter, Guido highlighted on his blog the manner in which the Telegraph had behaved during smeargate and entirely exposed the newspapers dependence on and closeness to Damian McBride.
A successful campaign for Iain yesterday, a considered and thoughtful editorial from Tim today and in his usual style of raw honesty, a very high profile exposure for Guido earlier in the year - it’s little wonder the press are becoming slightly tetchy.
You only have to look at sites like PoliticsHome , to realise that what you get free online is far superior to any thing you pay for in terms of news content. Read the Guardian Comment is free blog, or the Spectator Coffee House for high standard editorial written by journalists such as James Forsyth, to wonder just how long does the printed press have left, and who will survive?
I can only believe that Obama’s recent comments that blogs are light on fact checking and shout at each other were made following a lunch or similar with big newspaper business interests in the States.
Just as the newspaper world has its top shelf and red tops, the blogosphere hosts sites I would never wish to read. That’s the variety of life and free speech.
By and large the news blogs are high on honesty and fact checking. In the daily competition for traffic they self regulate, taking issue with each other. Over the last few years news bloggers have come into their own and the quality of their work would challenge any professional journalist.
I think Iain, and Tim, have demonstrated over the last couple of days that the top blogs have power, influence and muscle. There are many journalists who would like to be as well known as they are.
It really isn’t good enough for the press to think they can be offensive and get away with it, or arrogantly throw their weight around in a way that behaves as though the blogs are somehow inferior and think no one will get to hear of it.
The world will hear. People in every country will know, the news can and will travel the globe, instantly, and most importantly it will do it for free.