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Monday, 13 February 2012

Thoughts on the present discontents.

Every so often the balance of power within a polity changes.

In the United Kingdom the ultimate power supposedly lies with the Crown-in-Parliament.

But in history, the strongest power has shifted: at times it has been the established church, or the landed gentry, or the trade unions.

More recently it has been the popular media.


What appears to be happening now is that those entities which were cowered by or checked by the mainstream media are reasserting themselves.

Parliament and a judicial inquiry are both showing the advantage of absolute privilege: the ability to allow things to be said which otherwise may not be said because of fear of what the media will do.

The police are now enforcing the law rather than being inhibited by or being over-familiar with the tabloid press.

In addition, social media means that no longer can established titles and well-positioned editors and journalists dominate the channels of communication.


Electronic flows of information, coupled with the above assertions of power beyond the mainstream media's control, are creating a new polity. There are new power relationships. Old media may never be able to return to their old tricks; and they may never have that untouchable quality again.

The idea of a mere media professional - an editor or reporter - being a wielder of genuine political power may soon seem as quaint as Thomas Becket or Red Robbo being the most powerful commoner in the land.

Some new elite will dominate, and they no doubt will in turn abuse their power and will eventually be checked. Such is the true nature of political change.

And then some will be nostalgic for the days when the tabloids held political sway in the land, and they will pine for a golden age that never was.


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5 comments:

Tony Lorusso said...

"The idea of a mere media professional - an editor or reporter - being a wielder of genuine political power may soon seem as quaint as Thomas Becket or Red Robbo being the most powerful commoner in the land."

Maybe in the future, but not today. Perhaps we have seen their peak, but print media and television news are still a significant force in shaping what people think.

And power adapts. It always adapts.

Mark Hodson said...

As a member of that New Elite - the Blogosphere - how do you plan to abuse your power?

Can I suggest free bacon butties for all your commentators?

More seriously, surely the fragmentation/ spread of the power based reduces misuse. It has been the concatenation of the media (e.g. News International) which has driven arrogance and dishonesty.

As you can't get two Bloggers to agree what day it is, the power will continue diversified.

Mephisto said...

Trying again - think last com was lost somewhere, so apologies ahead (Jok) if I'm here twice!

I've spent years protesting about the flows of Power that enable people such as RM to hold sway. So first up - I'm no apologist. But I do read events rather differently from yourself.

Tom Watson tweeted re The Sun - "You reap what you sow" (interesting religious form there BTW!). Now this is just one tweet, I accept that, but it characterises so much of what is happening right now.

It is an obscene sentiment carried into the excess of some kind of whiter than white certainty.

Did the tens of thousands dead Iraqis deserve their fate? Are the parents of dead soldiers embroiled in some kind of Karmic certainty that robs them of their loved ones?

This is positively obscene. How could a person so embedded in our structures of Power have the affront to suggest that what people ultimately 'get' is what they 'deserve'. It's just sickening.

How blind and inflated can one man become?

Yes, Murdoch has spearheaded a Mafia like enterprise within our culture. He has behaved as ringmaster to our politicians, police and judiciary. But our world is symbiotic and correlative. No single enterprise can be taken in isolation as the epicentre of Power.

Power is a flux of exchanged distribution. It is not an epicentre. And for every moment that Murdoch cracked his whip there exists the correlative force of government and judiciary attempting to frustrate and distort the journalistic enterprise of disclosure.

Police and Parliament were Murdoch's puppets, but they were equally his frustration. Hide and Seek.

I want to see the back of him (RM); he is malign. But more importantly I'd like to see an end to the sentiment that overflows with a feeling of its own purity (the crusade).

No 'house' is so white as stand outside of events, and no practice should imagine itself as any type of *absolute* standard. Not of any type.

The notion of a place of "absolute privilege" is equally mythic. We cannot know that such a place exists (and it is complacent to believe so) for we cannot know what remains to be said! Every place is both light and dark.

In the case of Leveson the spotlight has fallen upon practices long suspected, but not voiced. Good. But lets be under no illusion: other practices will, at this very moment, be thriving in the relative obscurity now offered to them.

Leveson has just shifted the angle lamp! This doesn't represent an overall triumph for 'goodness' nor 'cultural justice'. The scales of good and evil are implacable.

We'd better live with it, rather than pretend to be pure - or 'absolute'.

Nick Gordon said...

Oh Jack. Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack,Jack. Dearie me.

"...those entities that were cowed..." please, rather than "...those entities which were cowered...".

I fear that your association with the pinko leftie agitators at The Staggers is undermining your respect for the pedantic correctness that is the lifeblodd of quality debate on the Internet.

Write out 100 times:

"I am cowed by the entities in the grammar police that watch my every word"

strangebrew said...

The problem might well of been a concentrate of toxic journalistic effluvium from R Murdoch, therefore opprobrium poured on that particular fevered brow would not be wasted as such.

But that the underlings were ready willing and able to imitate their erstwhile boss in dodging ethical moral and legal parameters and even making it up to suit the agenda was not unheard of.

Not a great shock and seems that this modus operandi that R M introduced way back insinuated itself into a culture and that pressure was liberally applied in 'plying' their dubious craft.

That they got caught with their dirty paws in the cookie jar well and proper is neither a triumph nor a victory.

It was an inevitability, those involved knew damn well what how and why that attitude was rife,and above all the police were more then aware of their shenanigans.

And most of those same shenanigans were winked at by politicians.

It is not just Murdoch per se...it is a dark foetid blacked bloom of putrid moral and ethical cancer that he liberally spread out that rattles my cage.

Because folk knew and were complicit.

It might take a rogue to be puppet master but it takes a bunch of mentally retarded puppets to dance to his tune, and no one did anything...until a young murdered girls mobile phone revealed a tale of press intrusion above and beyond acceptability, and that tale wound its way right up to Murdoch's crass morality.

And 'Becky 'the hair' Wade, Murdoch's favoured 'daughter', betrayed those parents while looking them in the eye for her 'daddy'

At least Tom Watson is doing something, folks might not appreciate his style, but considering the subject of his investigation... style is not a prerequisite!

It is to nasty and virulent to pretend it has the right to civilised behaviour.