We all know that people are increasingly getting their news from the internet. According to a recent survey of more than 11,000 people across nine countries conducted by Yahoo (and sponsored by the BBC, Google and media regulator Ofcom among others), respondents were most likely to say that the internet had become their most important source of news in Spain, Italy, Japan and urban Brazil. TV was still the most popular source of news overall in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark and the US - but not for young people. In every country except France, people under 35 say that they favour online news sources.
This isn’t one of those blogs claiming that ‘old media’ is dead (its death has been announced many times before), but undoubtedly we’re seeing a major change in how and where people find out what’s happening in the world. For the pessimists, the steady advance of new media means a less informed and more partisan public, with people migrating to news sources that echo their existing view of the world (as if newspapers haven’t always relied on this kind of ideological feedback loop with their readers as a way of trying to build and maintain consumer loyalty). While new media - web forums, blogs, social media etc - can act as an echo chamber, there’s also much more chance of having one’s own views (and facts) challenged online than there ever is through old media.
The reason of course is interactivity - and the fact that consumers can also become producers. Since November, when we launched this version of Guerilla Policy as a hub for frontline and independent bloggers, we’ve published more than 800 posts from people who have an informed view of social policy issues because they are directly engaged in them - from doctors to teachers, police officers to magistrates, and social workers to disability campaigners.
Just as old media isn’t dead, there will always be an important place for more ‘detached’, generalist comment and analysis - but this needs to be balanced by the perspectives of those who actually live the issues that others, however professionally, can only reflect on from a distance. The most popular frontline bloggers have audiences that are larger than many mainstream media commentators, and increasingly, old media is drawing on the work and insight of frontline and independent commentators - for example, the work of disability campaigners and groups in challenging the Government’s welfare reforms, or the recent debates over the use of hospital ‘death rates’ and the Home Office’s ‘Go Home’ vans. When it comes to truth and accuracy, mainstream (old) media also stands on increasingly shaky foundations - of course, independent bloggers are often passionate and partisan, but they’re also often right about the issues that matter most to them.
Today we’ve redesigned this site - we hope you like it. Let us know what you think, using the comment form below or via [email protected] Our Twitter account for this site also remains the same: @guerillapolicy
We’ve also launched a sister site where you can read blogs from frontline and independent commentators directly. We’ve called it Guerilla Feed, and changed our other Twitter account to reflect this: @guerillafeed
On the Guerilla Feed site, you can see the most read posts, as well as the most recently published, including by category (education, health etc). We’ve also included a sidebar on this site (to the top-right of this post) that displays the most popular posts from the Guerilla Feed site (again, category pages display the most popular posts according to the category).
Again, we’d love to hear what you think. And if you’re a frontline or independent blogger on social policy, do let us know about your blog. On the Guerilla Feed site, you can submit your blog to be included in the feed, and on this site you can drop us an email or tweet etc to let us know when you’ve published something we might be interested in.
Finally, thanks to all of the bloggers we’ve published so far - our site obviously depends on your work, insight and commitment, and we appreciate it greatly.