Book excerpt

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One of the main criticisms of amateur journalism from the mainstream media is that it is biased. This bias, whether perceived or real, forms much of the debate around amateur journalism sites, at least in the way it is presented in professional journalism contexts. There are considerable questions as to whether this matters at all to either the audience or the advertisers. Certainly, some of the most popular blogs, forums and information sites on the Internet are informed by very clear political aims and points of view (from all parts of the spectrum), and if anything, the readership is more loyal than that of more middle-of-the-road sites. It is apparent that despite the stated need of communities for unbiased information provided to the audience in a neutral space (a key tenet of democratisation, as reiterated in documents from the American Constitution to the UN Charter of Rights and Freedoms), the desire of people is for news and information that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs. The popularity of news organisations that hold specific and unabashed political views, from Fox News in the USA to the more extreme of the British tabloids, shows that giving the people what they want often means giving them biased and prejudicial information.

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