Brother Ivo has only been blogging for a short time and so writes disinterestedly in this matter, so he can ask the question -“Why are there no bloggers in the New Year Honours list?”
When the eulogies were written for the late David Frost, the assessments of his life went far beyond his original comedic talents and centred upon his role in ushering in significant media and social change. He and his friends of the satire boom of the 1960’s were credited with hastening the demise of deference and the dismantling of the rigid class structures.
Beyond this, Frost was central to the dismantling of the rigid structures of broadcasting with his role in developing breakfast television in the UK: his independent production company was also groundbreaking, not least in the winning gamble which he took by risking much of his personal fortune to produce the historic interviews with President Nixon.
The tributes were framed in terms of he and his associates being unappreciated and ahead of their time – which US Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy once wryly observed, only denotes one as having “lousy timing”.
While this was happening, the “radio pirates” took on the BBC monopoly and attracted rapid following because they did not follow the convention of the restricted “play list” system which would scarcely be believed by young people today.
Through a near monopoly position in Broadcasting, there was a cosy cartel between a handful of BBC producers, and the record company record “pluggers”. Each week, the BBC had a meeting at which a restricted play list was negotiated. On the list – you received exposure,- off the list you had no chance to sell records and grow your career. There was no alternative, no competition.
Only when the illegal stations and their motley collection of anarchic DJ’s introduced wider unregulated variety was the old order forced into change.
It was a textbook illustration of the responsiveness of supply and demand.
Brother Ivo’s mind went these DJ’s, Frost and other pioneers of the modern media environment as he scrolled through the 125 pages of names constituting the New Years Honours List. As a “moderniser” the Prime Minister broke some ground by honouring more women than men, and he was also ahead of the field by choosing to recognise whistleblowers.
Yet still missing from the Honours List were the latest incarnation of innovators, the internet bloggers.
If you read Brother Ivo’s opening post ” Welcome to the Tumbrel” (you still can) you will know that Brother Ivo reads a number of bloggers on a regular basis. They are not necessarily the most popular and he does not always agree with them, yet some entered the genre at a very early stage exploring, developing and demonstrating how the democratisation of the new medium might work.
He will not invidiously name names, but readers can consider their own candidates for significant counter cultural innovation and influence.
Such pioneers have developed a challenge to the establishment media narrative, which changes the social power balance in exactly the same way that Frost & Co.- together with the pirate radio DJs- did in their day.
It took years before those pioneers became formally recognised, yet they at least often had early financial reward for their groundbreaking efforts. Earlier media revolutions always had a potential for monetarisation. Fortunes could be made, and were.
The new innovators tend to have a very different motivation.
The lowly blogger has no such plan or expectation. Whatever the motivation, it is unlikely to be financial and few of them will make friends by speaking truth unto power. For no reward, the innovators think, write and disseminate original and challenging ideas in order to improve the public debate.
If they write well, they prosper, if not, they fail, it is all highly meritocratic and philanthropic. It is a larger version of “Speakers’ Corner”
You might think this would appeal to a Conservative Prime Minister. He probably views them with too short a perspective at present, for few will be demonstrating unqualified support and admiration for him. It would be foolish if they did, for it would scarcely be interesting.
When he constructs his Honours List on the next occasion however David Cameron ought to consider recognising one or two of the blogging pioneers who showed us what is possible, how to achieve it, and moreover, daily demonstrate, commitment, talent, and originality as they offer new ways of looking at Society and its structures.
Their absence from recognition in a Conservative Prime Minister’s honours List is a significant lacuna.