“Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all.

“A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people … okay — the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk.

“But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night.

“It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism.

“…Most of the blogging is too angry and too abusive. Terrible things are said online because they are anonymous. People say things online that they wouldn’t dream of saying in person.”

No, that’s not the latest editorial from The Australian. It’s the BBC’s Andrew Marr, former political editor who now presents BBC1’s flagship Sunday morning show, speaking at a literary festival over the weekend.

Aren’t we past this? Andrew Sullivan is. The celebrated Atlantic column The Daily Dish is currently marking the blog’s 10th birthday. We’re assuming Sullivan’s moved past the adolescent pimpled phase, although we can’t vouch for angry and/or drunk.

Marr’s right. Blogging alone won’t replace journalism. But his argument is stuck back in 1999. We’re not talking about replacing journalism anymore, we’re talking about fundamentally rewriting the book on it.

Meanwhile, veteran Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz announced last week he was jumping ship after 29 years at the esteemed masthead to defect to that two-year-old toddler of the internet, The Daily Beast.

David Carr of The New York Times likened the reaction to “gasps reminiscent of when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965”.

All the while news continues to circulate that The Beast’s Tina Brown will step up the publication’s rivalry with The Huffington Post by circling around the once mighty, now broke, Newsweek.

The times they are a changin’. Try to keep up.

Peter Fray

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