Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian reflects on whether blogging encourages “yes, but” qualifications to opinions, making the resulting dialogue bland and dull. Is a more robust, polarised rhetorical perspective better – where each side justifies their position rather than coming to a more “vanilla” consensus?
Interesting view that “before the web, there was no serious opposition to the press in the press.” Bradshaw identifies that now “everyone can publish their views and get a big readership” journalists and critics are being criticised “often by very intelligent people who do not happen to be professional writers”. He reports this “has been a bracing, invigorating but often uncomfortable experience. Some writers are prone to the harmless peccadillo of looking up their own names on the web. Ahem! Well, as eavesdroppers never hear good of themselves, so these self-Googlers often rise from their screens feeling as if they have been in a particularly hearty game of British Bulldog.”
Public relations theory proposes a “best practice” of dialogue – and as Bradshaw identifies there is now increased scope for debate. He believes that this means “critics must sharpen their wits, clarify their opinions – and, just as importantly, get a sense of humour about themselves.”
Public relations practitioners may think it is a good thing for journalists to come face to face with their own critics. But if they plan to join the public debate on opinions of relevance to their organisation, PRs need to consider the consequences. Are they prepared for the rough and tumble of debating strongly-held, opposing views or do they just want to encourage dull dialogue?