Bloggers as "Estate 4.5"
K. Daniel Glover of the Beltway Blogroll doesn't think so. Rather, he suggests that bloggers represent something else entirely:
Instead of being part of the Fourth Estate, [bloggers] are part of something new. I call it Estate 4.5 -- a nod both to the profession whose excesses galvanized many bloggers and to the medium they use. Bloggers are like inspectors general, the independent watchdogs of government. Just as IGs are not part of the agencies they oversee, bloggers are neither part of government nor journalism, but they keep a wary and watchful eye on both. And in so doing they provide a valuable check against the arrogance, inadequacies and abuses of all four estates.
Others have suggested that bloggers represent a "fifth estate" that's supposedly disrupting mainstream media, but hairsplitting aside, Glover's assessment might be somewhat more accurate.
But can bloggers and journalists be allies, or at least learn to live together without driving each other crazy? Glover believes that journalists and bloggers will best serve the public and each other by doing what each does best, though they don't necessarily have to hold hands while doing so. "Journalists and bloggers are entirely different creatures occupying the same universe the Constitution calls 'the press,' and they are adversaries," he concludes. "But journalists, bloggers, the government and 'we, the people,' have benefited greatly from that adversarial relationship -- and hopefully we will continue to do so."