Free Markets, Free People


The “Fifth Estate”

Interesting term being thrown around to describe the emerging “new media” alignment:

I recently heard the term “Fifth Estate” used at a Poynter conference to describe an emerging landscape for news, information, community and citizenship. It has also been used to describe the work of bloggers, but that circle may be too small for such a big term.

In my head, the Fifth Estate includes the Fourth Estate, the idea and value of a professional press corps as a way of informing and engaging the populace, and holding the powerful accountable. This vision of a Fifth Estate sees the Fourth Estate as necessary but insufficient for democratic life. The Fifth Estate could express what Jay Rosen has described as a “pro-am” model for the future of news, a frame that sees that the freedoms and responsibilities of the First Amendment empower not just a professional caste of news gatherers and distributors, but potentially every citizen.

I think it needs some tweaking but essentially, what was the “fourth estate”, i.e. professional journalism with a relative monopoly on the news reporting function (they still mostly enjoy a monopoly on the news gathering side although that is changing too) has now become what Rosen describes as “pro-am” in some fairly telling ways.

This trip I’m on, for instance, has driven that point home. Yesterday, I stood beside a reporter from Forbes and Reuters in a couple of exclusive press conferences and asked questions after a panel discussion that included the folks I mentioned yesterday. I was joined by 10 other bloggers. In my estimation our questions were more pointed and dug deeper than did those of the news organizations. It was an interesting experience. The guy from Forbes thought it was cool. They guy from Reuters didn’t. That’s pretty much indicative of the “MSM’s” perception of bloggers I think – but the interesting thing was my press credentials were just as valid as theirs. Heh …

Anyway, as I told one of the MSM members yesterday as we chatted, I’m not a journalist and will never pretend to be. I write opinion pieces, and I don’t pretend to be “fair and balanced” . I also said I thought that there was room for both of us in all of this to which he agreed. And, as I pointed out, blogging seems to have become pretty mainstream since most newspapers now have journalists blogging on site.

I really haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts together on the 3 hour panel we sat in on yesterday, but the short version of it was “hey, we need to have a non-partisan dialog about energy planning and we need to find a way to engaged the consumer in the conversation” all the while also saying, “legislation is heading down the track like a freight train and it isn’t very well thought out”.

Anyway, more today if I get the chance.

~McQ

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Print
  • Google Bookmarks

10 Responses to The “Fifth Estate”

  • “hey, we need to have a non-partisan dialog about energy planning and we need to find a way to engaged the consumer in the conversation” all the while also saying, “legislation is heading down the track like a freight train and it isn’t very well thought out”.

    So, nothing new, huh?

  • I think we have all noticed, and often complained about, the blurring of the line between news and opinion. It is often possible to get more news/information from an opinion piece on the editorial page than from a news article on the front page, and more opinion from a news article than from an opinion piece. 

    This site, for example, is a font of news and real information as well as opinion. The key with all sources is to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    One of the reasons I like to read the Washington Times is that it has an excellent Op/Ed section. The articles are usually informative as well as opinionated and far superior to either the Wash. Post, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun or some other papers I have read.  It does fall short in the quantity department though, so if your favorite publication serves double duty as a bird cage liner or puppy trainer the Wash. Times is not for you.

  • Fourth Estate, the idea and value of a professional press corps as a way of informing and engaging the populace, and holding the powerful accountable

    Nice idea in theory. Maybe one day we’ll see it in action.

  • i always think of senor bruce as ‘professional bellyacher’.  one of the best in the business.  and how ’bout pedro’s inglese these days, not bad, huh?

    • What are you here for Pedro?  Other than your own belly aching

      I think that when Senior Bruce wants your lip he will be reaching for his zipper.

    • I always think of Pedro as the result of a particularly unpleasant bellyache, more of a ‘Montezuma’s revenge’ than an illegal alien.

  • The main stream media is losing control of the flow of information to the internet.  It’s all about money and political power.  Ad revenues for print and some entertainment programming are suffering as advertisers realize that their target markets are now online.  Democrats are even proposing bailouts for newspapers!

  • It is sort of confusing since I already called the fourth estate the fifth column.

  • I wrote a book about media criticism blogging a couple years back, and made the case that bloggers are becoming a checking force on the mainstream journos–hence the Fifth Estate.  Might be of interest on this point.  You can ask your library to get it for you.  Amazon sells it.

    Here’s the citation:

    Cooper, S. D. (2006).  Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers as the Fifthe Estate.  Spokane, WA: Marquette.

  • More like the Fifth Estate checking up on the Fifth Column.  The Fourth Estate turned into the Fifth Column long, long ago. 

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet