Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Is Andrew Marr right? Are bloggers "inadequate, pimpled and single"?


Some of you might have picked up on a story reported last week regarding former political editor of the BBC, Andrew Marr's comments about bloggers and the act of blogging. Marr has dismissed bloggers as "inadequate, pimpled and single", and citizen journalism as the "spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night". "Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all." he added. "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," he told the Cheltenham Literary Festival. "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." He added: "Most of the blogging is too angry and too abusive. Terrible things are said online because they are anonymous. People say things online that they wouldn't dream of saying in person." 

I don't find this offensive at all. It is his opinion and not a very well researched opinion at that. There is a sincere difference between journalism and writing a blog. I've blogged before about a brief phase I went through when I was debating the very same point with myself. There has to be some degree of integrity when it comes to blogging. I'm a bit of a grump sometimes and can be very opinionated but I would never deliberately set out to hurt someone or to cause offensive. At the same time, this is my blog. I don't necessarily want to be fair and balanced. That is the job of the proper journalists. I want to tell it like I see it and I like the fact that outside the bounds of human decency, the blogging community isn't policed by a strict code of rules and as a result, real opinion, real experiences can be found. 
A recent blog post by the very experienced and esteemed blogger Rosie Scribbles shows that as well as being attacked or belittled by influential media types, attacks on bloggers can come in a very personal form through comments. A recent experience has left this blogger shaken and mistrustful. The line between opinion and abuse is crossed.  
I do, however, think that he may have a point when it comes to political bloggers or at least the ones he comes into contact with. Nick Robinson wrote a piece earlier in the year on why he no longer reads the comments on his own BBC blog. He said that he found the comments section rather than widening the political debate commenters were "people who have already made their minds up, to abuse me, to abuse each other or abuse a politician". I regularly keep up with CIF section on the Guardian website and he does have a point. For every insightful comment on a piece there must be at least 50 banal and acidic comments and that is on a niche piece.The line between opinion and pure abuse is blurred. If it's a political hot potato piece, then hundreds upon hundreds of comments are removed for their inappropriate and abusive comments. Saying that, the forum opens up the way and makes possible that one enlightened comment. So is it worth it? I would say so but we must endure the rest of the rubbish put out there.

A blog is just a format for writing in the same way that a review or a feature article is a format. Blogs just happen to be well suited to the internet - and to the experience of reading on a computer. They are personal, yes, opinionated - often, but good blogs tend to deal deals with one particular topic in a clear way with regular updates and they are often bang on time because they can be published easily. Blogs can be a very useful source of information, and the personal character fits with the experience of reading on a computer - a one-person, one-screen interaction which works with a more conversational tone.

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