People are starting to call Twitter the 5th Estate. The “estates” are the forces of power in our nation. Traditionally, dating right back to medieval notions of status and hierarchy, the first three estates of the nation are clergy, noblemen and the commons. In the eighteenth century, as printing technology became mass market relatively, the 4th estate – the press – became as powerful in influence.
One of the earliest references is from Thomas Carlyle quoting Burke from 1787 : “Burke said there were three estates in parliament, but in the reporters gallery yonder there sat a 4th estate more important far than they all”. Read more »