Theo Coggin

A blog on communications

The “Fifth Estate” – A brave new world?

fifth-estateJournalism as we know it, or as I as a self-confessed news junkie have known and loved it, died when Donald Trump became President-Elect of the USA. We see this new phenomenon of what is overtaking the Fourth Estate unfolding daily. Will it become known as the Fifth Estate?

Donald Trump and his cronies know they don’t need the New York Times, CNN, or any of the major news agencies that have influenced us for decades. A new road has opened up. Trump realises that with the power of social media, he can tell the Fourth Estate to get screwed – and is doing so, and telling us at will as he Tweets, in no uncertain terms.

With the power of social media, he can and does choose his own time, his own media, his own way of getting his message out, without having to kowtow to the whims and fancies of a press corps baiting him at the White House or anywhere else.

Twitter has been his most obvious form of social media communication, and highly successful it has been. (The fear of his incoming defence and security chiefs must surely be that he will tweet their attack strategies before they are launched!) Much to the anguished cries of mainline journalism that he is not giving them their due, he populates his Twitter account with the messages he wants to go out. He edits them; they’re in the words he wants to use and portray the image of himself that he wishes. Screw the interpretations of mainline journalists, no matter how much time they have spent or how well they did at the likes of Columbia’s School of Journalism.

Some of these journalists are brilliant. They have outstanding minds. But I have to tell them that Trump and his legion of social media advisors know how to use 21st century platforms to bypass them and their frequently preconceived interpretations of the President-Elect. The irritation of the journalists, some of them hardened and vastly experienced anchor men and women, is obvious.

I don’t like what’s happening. But happening it is.

So Twitter, YouTube, Facebook…. you name them. Donald Trump has reinvented the way Presidents of the United States will forever – certainly until I depart this mortal coil – communicate with their publics.

Resurrect yourselves fast, old-time journalists, or face extinction. The brave new world of social media is already way ahead of you as it lends itself to the whims and fancies of the politicians of this century. This in an age when we should be extremely wary of the unfettered use of this media. But more of that in another blog….

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