25 October, 2012

The Rise of the Fifth Estate

Title: The Rise of the Fifth Estate
Author: Greg Jericho
Genre: Non Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - Library

From Goodreads: The Rise of the Fifth Estate is the first book to examine the emergence of social media as a new force in the coverage of Australian politics.

Using original research, Greg Jericho reveals who makes up the Australian political blogosphere, and tackles head-on some of its key developments — the way that Australia's journalists and federal politicians use social media and digital news, the motivations of bloggers and tweeters, the treatment of female participants, and the eruption of Twitter wars.
The mainstream media's reaction to all this tends to be defensive and dismissive. As Jericho found to his own cost when he was outed by The Australian as the blogger Grog's Gamut, hell hath no fury like a criticised newspaper. And although journalists welcome Twitter as a work tool and platform, they have to deal with vitriolic online comments, and face competition from bloggers who are experts in their fields and who, for the most part, write for free.

What I thought: Yet another "heard it on the radio" book. Thank goodness for public libraries is all I can say!
So lets be unfront to start with - in terms of politics I am definitely left wing. In fact I think if I got much further left I would end up back where I started - I blame my mother and her strong socialist leanings.
I also have a fairly healthy interest in politics. My most common soap box topic at the moment is how it seems Australians don't actually seem to get how lucky they are to able to vote, to voice an opinion and to feel safe why they do so. The level of apathy about politics - about the system that affords us this life we seem to feel is our right - astounds me.
I was thrilled to find a book which could point me in the direction online of others who are interested in politics in this country. Not only interested but write about it, analysis it, discuss it, but not from the point of view of the mainsteam media (MSM). Jericho is not a journalist - doesn't say he is, in fact emphatically denies it, and he doesn't want to be. But he is intelligent and thoughtful and provides great insight into how blogging and social media is helping to shape the MSM, even though areas of it are fighting it all the way.
Gone are the days of journalists being the gate keeper of information and opinion. Today anyone can voice their thoughts and call governments to account for what they do. Twitter in particular is becoming an excellent way to break news and tap into dialogue about the days events.
Jericho admits there are issues around blogging and tweeting, but as he points out, they are here to stay no matter what your more traditional areas of the media wish.
Rise of the Fifth Estate was a bit dry in areas - I'm not a big fan of stats-  but Jericho's ability to relate personal experience in the social media world and his thoughtful analysis of how politicians and MSM are viewing and using social media gave me a great insight into what a valuable tool social media can be and reassured me I am not alone in wanting a wide variety of places to get my information from. Well worth the read for anyone who is looking for a way to access political coverage outside the MSM.

You can find Greg Jericho's blog, Grog's Gamut here.

Challenges: Australian authors