Richard Sambrook is the director of BBC global news and a blogger. Richard's blog is SacredFacts, and subtitled "Something thought to be actual as opposed to invented".
The idea that something out there has such an elevated sacred status, and that it has natural owners, is what really marks the difference between two opposing views of news and in part it's what drives blogs.
First let's say what news is. News, and media creativity in general, are more important than we realise for reasons we don't acknowledge.
They are indeed the cornerstone of our society. The reason: the broad schedule of news and entertainment is a medium that keeps the economy going. You cannot imagine western democracies functioning without ads and you cannot imagine an orderly society without newspapers and TV companies that make the compromises necessary to keep running ads.
What we invent and produce is sold via TV and newspapers. They are not just central to "free speech" but to economic order.
The fragmentation of these mediators, under pressure from IPTV and blogs, is going to have a profound effect on the whole structure of an advanced economy.
Corporations will have to sustain their credibility and promote their brands across thirty or more mediating content types. That means dilution across the traditional ones (which in turn will raise pressure on publicly funded media).
Playing such a central role in every news organisation, including those that don't take ads, and the structure of news gathering and decision making, is necessarily a compromise.
It's a compromise that has worked very well for us for 150 years. Its nature is: maintain equilibrium.
News organisations cannot ask fundamental questions about how our system operates – for example, about how our food supply and pharmaceutical industries have created a moral panic over weight, eating, and health, and indeed seem to have converted the human body to a playground for officially sanctioned but potentially dangerous drugs (Vioxx, statins, chemo, antacids, SSRIs).
News and current affairs can, for example, do the SSRI story but they can't do the fundamental inquiry into how and why our society has changed into one that is fundamentally drug dependent.
It is also necessarily elitist. Attempts to broaden the media franchise (the BBC ran some in its community division) have never been pushed far enough or given sufficient prominence, and they're easily folded. But you cannot spread power without raising many alternative viewpoints and disturbing equilibrium.
The result of both of these is blogging and vidcasting. It's the desire of many of us to make more fundamental inquiries, to object to elitism in practical ways, and to express anger at having been let down by the Fourth Estate.
The question we also ask of course is how we can be objective in blogs, and how we can find things out, without the resources of a BBC, CNN or Sky.
My response to the first of these is I've never been impressed by the objectivity of any news organisation. When the London Observer was owned by a metals company Lohnro, journalists complained, in the restaurants around Westminster, about the more obvious compromises like not being able to criticise oppressive regimes where their ultimate owner operated.
At one time, in the 1940s, the Times of London, Observer and several US papers and magazines were owned by a tight knit group around the Astor family which simultaneously dominated London and Washington society (Vince was President F.D. Roosevelt's best mate and the London Astors owned the paper of record).
We've yet to hear the true and complete story behind World War II because this cabal controlled information, and did not protest when the Special Operations' executive chief in New York, Intrepid, had many important records destroyed in 1945. 85% of the UK's SOE records in London were also destroyed.
You could tell similar tales across the history of the press and TV. Whether we look at important parts of modern society or of the past, we are conspicuously under-informed.
The point is, though, that these are necessary compromises and they will always happen. We're grown up enough to accept that but we shouldn't assume there's something sacred in there.
The opposite of scared is not invented, it's compromised, blurred at the edges, toned down, over-expressed perhaps. We all do it and it's part of our culture. As conspicuously as we are under-informed, we did little to demand better. And then blogging came along.
The question it raises, though, is not only will organisations like the BBC co-opt the reporting power of bloggers but also will they broaden and deepen their coverage of our world? That would really be treading on sacred ground.Powered by Sidelines