Beneath the pavement, a blog!

… or, the Dublin Riots and the citizen journalist’s revolution.

So there was mad rioting in Dublin at the weekend - street paving torn up and flung at police, cars burned out, shops looted. RTÉ didn’t even break from their regular Saturday sports programming to cover what was going on (although Charlie Bird took a few lumps for the side), simply because they weren’t prepared to deliver the ground-level reportage required. There were plenty of bloggers about though (highlights that I’ve seen here, here), who covered what was happening on the ground as the day went on better than TV and radio managed to, and better than the Sunday papers.

I’m not convinced that “citizen journalism” is the only way forward by any means, but in instances like this it’s strengths are apparent. In the same way that bloggers simply don’t have the resources or time to devote to investigative journalism, the traditional news media can’t achieve the blanket coverage that distributed guerrilla reporters can. So, we got political analysis and high-level interviews from TV and radio, and we got on-the-spot coverage from blogs. They compliment each other.

The online coverage called to mind an excellent book of vivid stories from the Easter Rising that took place in the same street ninety years ago, and the fictionalized account of the same events in A Star Called Henry. These books simply following people’s actions throughout the day, while something bigger happens around them.

In school, history bored me so much that I dropped it for the Leaving Cert. When I went to college I took it up again, because by then I had caught on that interesting stuff had happened after all - I’d just heard about it from poor storytellers. History is almost always more interesting when told from a personal perspective, from the participants points of view. That’s why I found the independent online coverage of Saturday’s events particularly captivating. However, news shouldn’t just be entertainment, and the mainstream media still plays a role in providing a wider perspective on current events.

— 01 Mar 2006