It’s all just ‘stuff’ on the Internet
Posted on January 17, 2012
I know I know: no sooner did I announce I was going to be blogging more this year than I all but disappeared off the Internet. Rest assured though, I haven’t been idle in my absence. Last week for instance I was on BBC Radio Suffolk’s Breakfast Show talking about Suffolk Police’s ‘no means no‘ campaign (where I reminded listeners of the Rape Crisis England and Wales Christmas campaign – Drinking is not a crime. Rape is – and suggested that “Don’t Rape” might be an effective campaign message to target at young men), and I also wrote this piece for Comment is Free about Lord Astor’s contribution to the HS2 debate. And by the way, if anyone’s around tomorrow morning and fancies being woken up by my dulcet tones, I’m due to be on BBC Radio Norfolk at some ungodly hour to talk about lap dancing clubs: I’ll let you know how that one goes.
In between all that, and working, and tweeting, and watching my beloved soaps (more on those in a future post), and getting hooked on BBC 4′s Borgen; like a lot of people with far too much time on their hands I’ve also been following the Leveson inquiry.
Now a ton of ‘stuff’ has already been written about Leveson, so I’m not going to bore on about it too much here, however, I couldn’t let Ian Hislop’s testimony pass without comment.
Because towards the end of Hislop’s evidence session this morning he was asked about the blogosphere and, surprisingly, he didn’t seem to have anything positive to say about it. Unfortunately I can’t find the exact quotes, as Hislop’s opinion on blogging is not what the MSM is focusing on – probably because a lot of similarly old-school print journalists agree with him – but what he effectively said was that blogging has no real value until and unless the issues bloggers are writing about find their way into the dead tree press. Up until that magical point when a blogger’s work gets picked up by a ‘real journalist’, according to Hislop the extensive research that a lot of us do, and the articles that we write, are nothing more than just “stuff” on the Internet.
He also said, and this is a direct quote, that there isn’t a lot of Private Eye content available online because he doesn’t see “why journalism, which at its best is a noble craft, should be given away.“
I suppose I’ve been around long enough now to know that this ridiculous and arbitrary divide still exists for some between so-called “professional” journalists and those of us who just write “stuff” for the Internet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not surprised when I hear it articulated, or that I’m not disappointed by it. I am, and especially when the editor of an allegedly anti-establishment, pro let’s-expose-all-the-bullshit-and-shenanigans organ like Private Eye engages in it. You’d think someone like Hislop would be grateful for citizen journalism and the way it’s helped expose wrongdoing and hold those in power more to account, but no, instead he appears to be utterly contempuous of it.
Maybe the attitudes he expressed this morning go some way to explaining why when his publication does get “stuff” from blogs he’s so loathe to give the original sources due credit….
Incidentally, it’s not just Hislop who’s got a downer on bloggers this week. According to our esteemed justice secretary Ken Clarke, a large proportion of bloggers are “nuts and extremists.” Still, we can at least console ourselves with the knowledge that if two such eminent personalities hate bloggers so much, some of us must be doing it right.