Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Andrew hasn't marred my pleasure

My good friend Ronnie wrote to me yesterday to question my continued commitment to blogging, given how comprehensively bloggers had just been ‘marred’.

The reference was to a recent diatribe against blogging by someone I rather admire, Andrew Marr, journalist, broadcaster and highly talented populariser of history. Still, my view, to adapt an old saying, is that what is marred can be mended, and his indictment hasn’t left me downhearted at all.

It’s quite an indictment, though. ‘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,’ he ranted at a recent literary festival in Cheltenham. ‘They are very angry people,’ he went on, and though he admits that ‘many of us are angry people at times’, he doesn’t buy the concept of citizen journalism, which he describes as ‘the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night. It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism.’

Well, Marr is an outstanding writer and it would be a great pity to lose his excellent work with its insights and its lucid explanations of complex matters. It would be just as great a pity to have to do without the journalism of the correspondents on the better papers, such as the Independent or the Guardian here in Britain. Certainly, blogging isn’t going to replace them.

But sadly these aren’t the only journalists. To take another British example, how about this extract from today’s Daily Mail?

‘I had a fling with a waitress and it made me feel manly, says David Arquette.’ How many people know who David Arquette is? How many care?

We’re told that the author of this exposure of skuldeggery is a ‘Daily Mail reporter’. It seems they’re proud of it. Glancing further down, we can see why. There’s an appropriate photograph of the waitress in question, followed by the riveting information that ‘as Arquette went public over their encounter, the brunette beauty broke cover to attend her no doubt daily gym sessions dressed in a flimsy vest, leggings and a low-cut sports bra.’

I particularly liked that ‘no doubt’. Who needs facts when you can speculate and pass it off as research?

Now in the past I’ve contributed posts to a Labour Party blog and I’ve had some pretty ranty replies, I can tell you. On this blog, of course, the comments have always been courteous, kind and sensitive. Out there, in the big-blog world, they’re a bit more like One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Certainly, that kind of stuff is pretty unappealing, and it can’t hold a candle to our best journalism.

But what about our worst journalism? Marr needs to realise that there’s another end of the spectrum from his own. If the journalism of the Mail and our other tabloids, here, on the Continent or across the Atlantic, were replaced by even the least inspiring blogging, would it really matter? Would we be any the worse off? Are the bloggers really that much worse?

In any case, my reply to Ronnie is simple. I don’t write for Andrew Marr’s pleasure but for my own and, I hope, for my readers’.

So I'll keep enjoying Andrew Marr's work on many topics. But when it comes to blogging, I'm afraid I won't be paying a lot of attention to his views.


Anonymous said...

I don't think Andrew Marr was writing about bloggers like you, I think he was writing about the "Daily Mail type" blogger. Were there less of the type he had in mind (I suspect), people would value YOURS much more.

Awoogamuffin said...

"It is fantastic at times"

That's when he was talking about yours.

Still, I guess he was just reacting to all these people breezily claiming that blogging represents the end of professional journalism, which I think is nonsense anyway.