The Rise of the Fifth Estate is a well-researched and engaging look at the world of social media and blogging in the context of the Australian political system, and author Greg Jericho (aka political blogger Grog’s Gamut) makes a convincing case that social media has been a positive force. The book opens with a comparison of how different media outlets—both ‘new’ (online) and traditional—have reacted to recent leadership spills in our major political parties, before presenting a snapshot of the current state of the Australian political blogosphere and twittersphere. Jericho also picks up on some of the important issues facing new media platforms such as the apparent lack of female voices in online political discussions, the increasingly nasty nature of online comments, and the ongoing battle between amateur and professional political writers. While the book’s casual tone might not appeal to everyone, its strength lies in the personal experience that informs it. Jericho has had first-hand experience of the battle between bloggers and the mainstream media: as Grog’s Gamut he is an avid blogger and tweeter (with close to 13,000 followers) and writes a weekly column for the ABC’s The Drum. The Rise of the Fifth Estate is an important contribution to our knowledge of how Australian politics and the Australian media operate, and is a book that all media professionals, and indeed anyone who is interested in politics and the media, should have on their shelves.
Eloise Keating is a journalist with Bookseller+Publisher. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellykeating. This review first appeared on the Bookseller+Publisher website in July. View more pre-publication reviews here.