Monday, 11 October 2010

I may be inadequate, but I am no longer pimply

Roy Greenslade quotes Andrew Marr as saying at the Cheltenham Literature Festival:
A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people.
OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night.
It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism...
Most of the blogging is too angry and too abusive. It is vituperative. Terrible things are said on line because they are anonymous. People say things on line that they wouldn't dream of saying in person.
I am sure that Lynne Featherstone, David Peter, Peter Black and Steph Ashley (to name the bloggers that come immediately to mind, and that's just from my "follow" list) would object to the stereotype, just as Greenslade already has done. Besides, the section of the blogosphere which I am part of is not aiming to compete with journalists, but with commentators. The paid competition includes the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, David Aaronovitch and Johann Hari, and is not superior. Marr himself occupies that grey area between commentary and journalism.

The best example of citizen journalism which I have seen recently has been Nick Thornsby's report of the judicial investigation of Phil Woolas's election campaign. Angry he may be about Woolas's conduct, but his reportage was admirably objective - and more comprehensive, about a critical case, than most of the press.

We are seldom vituperative, and, if we are angry, it is with good reason. We pick up on aspects of the news which are ignored by the professionals in the London village. We fill in the gaps which the commercially-dominated media leave.

If Marr is touchy about bloggers encroaching on his territory, it must be from an awareness that the quality of broadcast and press journalism is not what it was, or should be.


Frank Little said...

- and, by the way, my family could never afford a house with a basement.

Frank Little said...

At a time when I receive my first citation on Liberal England, it may have seemed churlish not to have included Jonathan Calder's excellent blog in my list of counter-arguments to Andrew Marr.

I hadn't forgotten about Liberal England, but, as professional journalists, Calder - and Bernard Salmon, another of my favourite bloggers, if an infrequent one these days - seemed to be outwith the class Marr was attacking.