Disintermediation is just a posh way of cutting out the middle man, and the internet was meant to do this in spades.
From the insurance broker to the estate agent to the news outlet, the consumer would bypass these intermediaries and go straight to the source.
And while this has sometimes been the case, the promise has rarely matched the reality.
Two recent attempts – singer Chris Brown’s YouTube apology and the Cabinet Office’s efforts to right some misreporting wrongs – have been largely unsuccessful.
But now in the wake of a political demotion – Alan Duncan’s move to shadow prison’s minister following some embarrassing secret filming -it is back on the agenda.
Guido Fawkes says the political blogosphere was responsible for the scalp and concludes that “the news is now disintermediated”.
Even here, I’m not so sure, as I argue in my latest piece for Journalism.co.uk. Certainly the journalistic craft and energy belonged to the activists but, put simply, it took the mainstream media to put it into the mainstream – to mediate it.
Guido has written in response to my piece, and you can read that here. He ends by saying:
Increasingly old media parasitically leeches off new media sources. The ecology of the media has fundamentally changed.
That may be the case, but it is not the point I’m making.
If disintermediation is indeed “the elimination of an intermediary in a transaction between two parties” (in this case source of news and the consumer of news), then it is difficult to argue that the broadcasters and newspapers have gone away.
They haven’t been eliminated and they are an essential part of the 2009 news ecology.
Will that change in time? Possibly. But until then the bloggers need the BBC, the Evening Standard etc to spread the word.
I used the BBC in the headline to exaggerate a point – big, national media carry the biggest weight, influence and capacity to disseminate. And none is bigger than the BBC. Still, it was the Standard’s lunchtime splash on 12 August that prompted the broadcasters to act.