Amateur night or citizen journalism?
I enjoyed much of the
Being one of those 'amateurs' myself, I tried to think through a response, but couldn't get to it. So, I was pleased to see that The Monthly has published a letter by Ken Nielsen responding to Haigh's review, and Keen's book, on its revamped website (unfortunately, they haven't put Haigh's review online). Nielsen's comments resonate with me (the emphasis is mine):
My worry is not about a "culture without a hierarchy of talent, expertise and authority" but about a mainstream media that is peopled with columnists whose regular writings are as consistent and predictable as a McDonald's burger. You know what Phillip Adams, Tim Blair, Kenneth Davidson, Janet Albrechtsen, Hugh Mackay and Miranda Devine are going to say about any issue. And with several, you know what issue they are likely to write about: some react to the previous day's headlines, others cycle through the same five or six topics. Few surprise or make us think hard. It seems that editors do not like readers to be surprised by a columnist. They prefer us to nod solemnly when our opinions are supported or grind our teeth when reading someone we always disagree with. Columnists have become brands and are subject to the same quality control. I see little "talent, expertise or authority" among them.Nielsen is no uncritical cheer squad for bloggers:
Among the bloggers on the internet - Keen's amateurs - I find much stimulating, thought-provoking and informative material, as well as a lot of rubbish.But he does highlight the capacity of blogs to engage him and even change his mind about some things! When was the last time something you read on a blog changed your mind about something? Or, as importantly, made you go 'wow!', or 'Oh!'
If you're interested in the 'citizen journalism' angle on this, I recommend this post on Gatewatching, a Queensland-based site devoted to the topic.