12 October 2006

Get some professionals in

Over on Purple Scorpion is an interesting commentary on one of the latest developments in the long-running sage of the REACH directive. It is one of several pieces on the general issue of EU regulation, a theme also developed by Tim Worstall, with some interesting comments on his post.

Taking in our posts on the subject (here and here) this means that the blogosphere is making the running on a crucial issue which, so far, has had only very limited exposure in the MSM.

On an entirely unrelated issue, the blog Winds of change points up a study from a Canadian military think tank. This is on the fascinating subject of blast-resistant vehicles, written in such a way as to be accessible to the non-technical reader and thereby illustrating the broader relevance of the issue.

If we had a halfway decent media, that is precisely the sort of thing we would be seeing in our newspapers and on television, and be hearing on the radio. But, instead, we get low-grade superficialities such as that which we reported earlier or the banal trivialities in which the media now seem to excel.

How interesting it is, therefore, to have the Daily Telegraph's Shane Richmond quoting a fellow hack telling us that, "informed opinion is everything - as opposed to the largely uninformed opinion that the ranks of citizen journalists, can through no fault of their own, provide".

This is also a newspaper which is investing heavily in its electronic services, running a stable of corporate blogs as a means of dealing with the challenge of the internet. But, instead of exploiting the freedom of the medium which actually allows you to put up more detailed, discursive posts, with cross links to other sites and with multiple pictures and diagrams, the paper has gone the other way, homing in on the superficial, the trivial and the personal.

Critical though I am of British bloggers, this low-grade material typifies and illustrates all that is wrong with the MSM. Furthermore, although none of these "clogs" has its own "hit counter", the number of comments and referrals from links are low, suggesting that traffic is way below the newspaper's expectations. And, if they did not have the umbrella of the brand on which to rely, I suspect that many of them would be struggling to get their daily hit rates into double figures.

Effectively, what this tends to confirm is precisely the theme of my previous piece. Within the MSM, we are not dealing with any great conspiracy to shape the news agenda. More likely, we are suffering the attentions of a bunch of feckless amateurs who are totally out of their depth when it comes to serious issues. And it is not going to get better until they get some professionals in.