Friday, 21 November 2008

Should bloggers be in the lobby?

. Paul Linford, after some consideration, thinks they should be;

"After initially taking the view that political bloggers had little to gain, and much to lose in terms of their independence by joining the parliamentary lobby, my thinking has changed on this point over the past couple of years. The gradual convergence of the blogosphere and the mainstream media which I wrote about in the Guide to Political Blogging earlier this year has rendered the old dividing lines obsolete."

However, lobby passes would be restricted to the 'Big Five'; Iain Dales Diary, Guido Fawkes, Conservative Home, Political Betting and Liberal Conspiracy. This is the first place I have a problem with the idea mainly because to my mind it creates the prospect of 'two-tier' blogging. The ones with the passes get the 'inside-track' while the rest are left behind and I have to say you cannot compare blogging and the mainstream media. Three of those blogs are aligned with one specific party; newspapers, of course, do fall into certain camps due to their editorial stance but they are not explicitly Conservative Party papers. So, when the passes are dished out and the 'Big Five' are permanently 'elevated' it's not exactly a politically balanced equation is it??

Also, what happens if one of them 'drops out' and is replaced by a newcomer?? Do they then lose their pass and have to hand it over?? Linford links to a report in which Benedict Brogan says;

"There's an ongoing conversation whether the House of Commons authorities start issuing media passes to bloggers. That remains unresolved - it's causing a huge headache."

Linford argues this is;

"essentially an argument about access, not desks."

However, given the above this is obviously not entirely the case. Giving the 'Big Five' lobby passes would open up a can of worms for the reasons I have just outlined. On balance I feel that until these issues are ironed out blogging in the lobby is still a way off...


Paul Linford said...


At no point was I arguing that lobby passes for bloggers should be limited to the "Big Five," merely that these five blogs had demonstrated that, in terms of their influence, readership and networks, they had as much right to be there as some "old media" outlets.

There are certainly other independent blogs "bubbling under" the current elite who might in future aspire to join them - eg Dizzy, Lib Dem Voice, Labour Home, Sadie's Tavern and Hopi Sen - but for all their excellence, these blogs have not yet quite got the "reach" that the Big Five can claim.

Darrell G said...

Hiya Paul,

I am not saying that this would be your view for time everlasting but I think now, if you are saying, that passes should be restricted to those five for the reasons you state it does create still the issues I have pointed too.

I am not doubting the facts but you must concede the 'Big Five' are politically unbalanced in their compostion?? As a Lib Dem also and a third party we are going to feel this but you also exclude Labour Home.

Blogs are not like newspapers in that they are more explicitly partisan so I feel this point is especially relevant.