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Fifth Estate

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Title: Fifth Estate  
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Subject: Collaborative journalism, Citizen journalism, Opinion journalism, Technology journalism, Trade journalism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate is a modern extension of the three classical Estates of the Realm. The Fifth Estate is most strongly associated with bloggers, journalists, and media outlets that operate outside of the mainstream media (and often in opposition to the mainstream media). It may also include political groups and other groups outside of the mainstream in their views and functions in society (the term "Fourth Estate" emerged in reference to forces outside the established power structure, and is now most commonly used in reference to the independent press or media).

Blogs and social media as a Fifth Estate

Nimmo and Combs assert that political pundits constitute a Fifth Estate.[1] Media researcher Stephen D. Cooper argues that bloggers are the Fifth Estate.[2] William Dutton has argued that the Fifth Estate is not simply the blogging community, nor an extension of the media, but 'networked individuals' enabled by the Internet in ways that can hold the other estates accountable.[3]

Making reference to the medieval concept of "three estates of the realm" (Clergy, Nobility and Commons) and to a more recently developed model of "four estates", which encompasses the media, Nayef Al-Rodhan introduces the weblogs (blogs) as a "fifth estate of the realm". Blogs have potential and real influence on contemporary policymaking, especially in the context of elections, reporting from conflict zones, and raising dissent over corporate or congressional policies. Based on these observations, Al-Rodhan suggests moving beyond traditional thinking that limits the “estates of the realm” to governmental action and proposes a broader perspective in which civilians or anyone with access to a computer and the Internet can contribute to the global political change and security.[4]

Of all the blogs on the Internet, continues Al-Rodhan, only a few have a real power to influence the Codepink movement argue that this is an unfair characterisation, since the Executive Branch wages actually-existing war at a significant human and material cost routinely without being charged with the same accusation. Despite of evidence of multiple war fronts appearing to support this claim in the early 21st century, Al-Rodhan concludes, governments must increase surveillance of blogs and develop legal, administrative, and technological tools to dissuade bloggers from posting potentially harmful information, such as calls to incite terrorism. On a more positive note, blogs have also the potential to prevent governments from adopting hasty and misjudged decisions.[5]


  1. ^ Dan D. Nimmo and James E. Combs (1992). The Political Pundits. Praeger/Greenwood. p. 20.  
  2. ^ Stephen D Cooper (2006). Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers as the Fifth Estate. Marquette Books.  
  3. ^ Dutton, W. H. (2009), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks’, Prometheus, Vol. 27, No. 1, March: pp. 1-15.
  4. ^ "Geneva Centre for Security Policy - GCSP / Emerging Security Challenges / Globalisation / Publications / Books / Faculty Publications / Books and Edited Volumes / The Emergence of Blogs as a Fifth Estate and Their Security Implications". Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  5. ^ Al-Rodhan, Nayef R.F., The Emergence of Blogs as a Fifth Estate and Their Security Implications, Geneva, Slatkine, 2007.
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