Fifth estate


      • social commentary
        Referring to the media or journalism as an unofficial and powerful force in society that can shape public opinion and influence political and social issues

      • alternative media
        Describing independent and non-mainstream media outlets or sources that provide distinct perspectives and viewpoints on current events and societal issues

      • accountability and transparency
        Highlighting the responsibility of the media to hold those in power accountable and to provide accurate and truthful information to the public, often in contrast to the traditional three estates of government (the clergy, nobility, and commoners)

    Examples of Fifth estate

    • The blogosphere has become a powerful force in shaping public opinion, serving as the fifth estate in modern-day journalism.

      The "fifth estate" is a metaphorical term used to describe the influential role that unofficial and non-traditional sources of information, such as online blogs and social media, play in providing information and shaping public opinion. This term is often used in the context of journalism, where it is compared to the four traditional estates (the executive, legislative, judicial, and the media). The media, or the "fourth estate," is the traditional check on the other three estates, holding them accountable and acting as a watchdog for the public. In the digital age, the rise of citizen journalism and the increased role of social media have blurred the lines between traditional journalism and the online conversations through blogs and forums. As a result, the blogosphere has gained an influential role in shaping public opinion and holding the traditional media and other institutions accountable for their actions, making it a critical element of the modern-day "fifth estate."

    • The hacktivist group Anonymous has emerged as a powerful force for exposing and speaking out against corrupt institutions and entities, earning the status of a modern-day fifth estate.

      In recent years, the rise of online activism and the use of the internet as a tool for social change has led to the emergence of hacktivist groups like Anonymous. These groups use technology and online platforms to expose corruption, hold institutions accountable, and raise awareness about important issues. Their efforts, combined with the increasing role of social media in shaping public opinion, has earned them a significant place in the modern-day "fifth estate." Unlike traditional journalistic outlets, hacktivist groups often operate outside the law, which has led to criticism and controversy surrounding their methods. However, their influence and impact on public opinion and social change are undeniable, highlighting the power and role of unofficial and non-traditional sources of information in shaping modern-day journalism and public discourse.

    • Like a fifth estate, the activism of environmental groups and advocates has become a crucial force in shaping public opinion and pushing for change.

      Today, environmental issues and concerns are no longer a fringe issue but a critical area of public discussion and debate. The rise of environmental activism and advocacy has brought these issues to the forefront of public discourse, shaping public opinion and pushing for change. Environmental groups and advocates have emerged as a powerful force, advocating for policies and initiatives that prioritize environmental sustainability and conservation. Their efforts have placed a significant burden on governments and institutions to take action and address environmental concerns, illustrating the critical role that unofficial and non-traditional sources of information and activism play in shaping modern-day journalism and public discourse.

    • In a world dominated by fake news and alternative facts, the role of traditional media outlets as a fourth estate has become increasingly important, acting as a beacon of factual information and accountability.

      The rise of disinformation and propaganda, often referred to as "fake news" and "alternative facts," has posed a significant challenge to traditional media outlets, which have traditionally acted as a check on other institutions and hold the other three estates accountable. However, the critical role that traditional media outlets play in providing factual information and holding institutions accountable has become increasingly important in an age of disinformation and propaganda. As a result, the term "fourth estate" has once again gained prominence as a metaphorical term used to describe the critical role that traditional media outlets play in shaping public opinion and holding institutions accountable. In this sense, traditional media outlets have become a crucial component of modern-day journalism and public discourse, serving as a beacon of factual information and accountability in a world dominated by disinformation and propaganda.

    • The investigative journalists have become the fifth estate, holding the powerful accountable and exposing the truth.

      The phrase "fifth estate" refers to an unofficial, yet influential, group that plays a significant role in a society. In this example, the "fifth estate" refers to the investigative journalists, who, like the traditional four estates (the clergy, the nobility, the common people, and the monarch), have the power to shape public opinion and hold those in power accountable. They wield this power by uncovering the truth through their reporting, which can expose wrongdoing and bring about positive change. Thus, they serve as a watchdog for the people, ensuring that justice is served and protecting the democratic process.

    • In a society where the press is often criticized and attacked, the fifth estate has become a beacon of hope for the ordinary people.

      In this example, the "fifth estate" is being talked about as a symbol of hope in a society where the press is often subjected to criticism and attack. This shows the power and influence that the fifth estate wields, as they can serve as a source of strength and reassurance for the common people during trying times.

    • The impact of the fifth estate on society cannot be overstated, as their work has led to significant changes in the way we live and think.

      In this example, the "fifth estate" is being referred to as a powerful force that has the ability to bring about change in society. By exposing the truth and holding the powerful accountable, the fifth estate has the potential to influence public opinion, create awareness, and ultimately, make a positive difference in the world. This, in turn, highlights the importance of a free and independent press in a democratic society, as they serve as a vital check on power and ensure that society functions in a fair and just manner.


    The idiom "fifth estate" is often used to refer to the media as a powerful and influential entity in society, capable of shaping public opinion and providing alternative perspectives. It also carries connotations of accountability and transparency in the media's role in reporting and exposing the actions of those in power.

    Origin of "Fifth estate"

    The term "fifth estate" originated in the 18th century, when society was divided into three estates – the clergy, nobility, and commoners. With the rise of the printing press and the spread of information, the media became known as the "fourth estate" alongside these traditional pillars of society. However, in the 20th century, the term "fifth estate" emerged as a way to describe the media's increasing influence and power.

    The origin of the idiom is often attributed to English author and historian Thomas Carlyle, who used the phrase "fourth estate" in his book "Heroes and Hero Worship" in 1841. In the late 20th century, the term "fifth estate" gained popularity as a way to describe the alternative and independent media that emerged as a counterforce to mainstream media. The term has since been used in various contexts to refer to the media's role in society and its impact on shaping public opinion.