Understanding Georgia

Hands up if you felt a bit inadequate at your knowledge of Caucus politics when the Russian-Georgian conflict suddenly erupted this week? Embarrassingly, for somebody who prides themselves on knowing a bit about what's going on in the world generally, I really had no idea where it all kicked off from. Sadly, any newspaper coverage just left me more confused. I could grasp the picture of what was happening, by and large. I just had no idea why it had happened, and that, to me, is equally if not more important. Even by upping my news consumption, I was still left a little bit in the dark.

So thank God for the internet, and more specifically, Nosemonkey's EUtopia, who has provided excellent insight and content into the conflict. Sometimes I feel news organisations could learn a lot from the likes of Clive [1].

Granted, they're unlikely to start admitting when they don't know the exact reasons, or where there's gaps in their knowledge, but it adds a lot to a good piece of analysis where the writer regularly links to blogs that know the subject better than the author, or have something to add to the analysis. Some columnists have got into this habit and I suspect they'll be the ones who maintain a career long into the future.

Yet again, I've filled in the gaps in my knowledge not from the news but from the internet and expert bloggers. I've not even tried to search for the 'what' as well as the 'why' but it'd be interesting to see what's been posted globally, not just for news but also censorship.

Normally wars are (he says, never have reported from a war zone) notoriously difficult to report from due to the restrictions imposed by the military on the media. But this is the first major conflict of international interest that's been fought well and truly in the social media age.

It'd be an interesting hypothesis as to how different reporting on the Falklands War and Kosovo/Balkans would have been in the age of social media.

[If you find this kind of stuff fascinating, I can thoroughly recommend Phillip Knightley's The First Casualty, which is a history and analysis of war reporting through the ages. Also, Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, which should be compulsory reading each time a promising little war breaks out.]

[1] Although he does work in the media. What as, I'm not sure, but if he's never been an official journalist in real life, I've always got the impression he's as near as you're likely to get without being one.