All in a days work
I did manage to see the piece of Oz bloggers on the ABC's 7.30 Report
. I was painting the roof of the porch at the time and was trying to listen to Kerry O'Brien. I heard something about the coalition military forces trying to convince Iraqi civilians that they're liberators rather than conquerors.
Then Suzanne my partner called me in. Everybody looked the part. Such a diverse bunch of public intellectuals. But no Tim Blair?
Then I went back to painting for an hour or so and I mulled it all over while high on the paint fumes.
The phrase 'they're individuals seated at their computers day and night, unpaid and devoted to keeping themselves and their fellows better informed' did capture some of the phenomenon. John Quiggin's
"I think what's been published in the Australian weblogs is as good, or better, as what's been published in the opinion papers of the major newspapers"
was very apt. But this insight did not connect the writing on the weblog to other kinds of writing --to the literary institution; nor did it explore the weblogging writing as a new kind of writing. And the programme missed exploring the relationship between 'better informed' , opinion, citizenship and democracy.
The programme missed the diversity of the writing because it viewed weblogging through the eyes of the media. Bloggers will never supersede the mainstream media nor are they parasites on the media. But the insight of James Morrow
"The blogs are really kind of the front line.They're like a new wire service of volunteer reporters and rewriters and commentators, who are all out there getting news out to other people and each other.."
only captures one dimension of weblogging. It is the perspective of a journalist weblogger and was reinforced by Gareth Parker's
comment that instant feedback is provided bya lot of the bloggers. Yet webloggers make no pretence to be objective and balanced in the way the media say they are. Weblogs are very partisan--- but then so are some of the US television networks on the war. They see themselves (eg. Fox) as an arm of the US military. 'Rewriting' and 'commentating' captures some of it but it misses the polemics.
This weblog, for instance, makes no pretence to be news or provide news. It is an online cultural criticism that situates itself in opposition to the culture industry. It is cultural criticism with a very personal voice.
MIck O'Donnell did mention 'critique' when he said that James Morrow 'delivers a neo-conservative critique of the latest - [news] from the ABC, the American media - all of his pet hates, like the coverage of the deaths of US soldiers., But there was no exploration of the role of 'critique' in Australian society; or how a weblogger does it differently from a neo-conservative journalist in the tabloid media.
Nothing about the role of neo-conservatism in the culture wars or their attack on the liberal media. This sort of weblogging has nothing to do with being "umpires of the net, blowing the whistle on media complacency." It is a political critique of the role of liberal media in a democracy. What is the purpose of this critique? Once again no mention of democracy.
What was most disappointing was the failure to explore the whole relationship between weblogging, poetics and politics briefly mentioned by Gianna.
A pity. Because there is a lot of good creative writing being produced by webloggers.
The programme was too centred on the weblogging/journalism relationship and whether or not webloggers woud free themselves from their dependence on mainstream media. But it was a long way ahead of, and far more informative than, the material on weblogging presented on Radio National Summer Show earlier this year. That limited weblogging to social gossip, personal diaries and voyeurism.