It has all happened so fast. In the 20th century, media evolved through a series of technological landmarks that seem stately in comparison: first radio waves across the Atlantic in 1901; television invented, 1926; television transmission begins in Australia, 1956; CNN begins, 1980. From there, change is compressed. In 1992 the Mosaic browser made the internet easier to use. By 1998, Matt Drudge’s online news and gossip website, the Drudge Report, had broken the story of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, an event that is widely cited by journalism academics as the birth of online news. Google, MySpace, YouTube, wikis and blogs all belong to this century.
Stuart Allan, author of Online News (2006), begins his history of the form with the Drudge Report. Other key events are the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, in which “amateur news reporters” used weblogs to create their own “decentralised media” and the war in Iraq, which resulted in the rise of first-person, raw accounts of life inside Iraq in the warblogs of Salam Pax and Riverbend. Participatory or citizen journalism began, in this account, with the launch of Indymedia (motto “be the media”) in 2000 in Seattle during anti-globalisation protests. South Korea’s OhmyNews, in which citizens write the stories (and readers tip writers they like best) and citizen “reporting” on the London bombings, Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami are other examples of what Allan says are “the ways in which the very users of online news are rewriting the rules which have traditionally governed journalism as a profession”.
Ordinary people, Allan argues, are now pursuing their own news agendas, sidestepping “corresponding notions of ‘authority’, ‘credibility’ and ‘prestige’.” (The Age)