Anyone from outside the UK may never have heard of The Daily Mail newspaper, nor one of its columnists, Keith Waterhouse.
Back in the days when print was King, and email was but a rich man’s plaything, we Brits only had to concern ourselves with reading this man’s ramblings if we physically picked up a copy of the sensationalist newspaper and read his column for ourselves.
Now he’s loose on the Internet, and he’s not keen on bloggers.
On the 5th October last year, Mr Waterhouse decided to launch an attack on bloggers (a collective that he confuses with “googlers”), opening with the hardly tactful words:
Seasoned googlers, of whom there is already a vast tribe, are nerds, anoraks and braces-wearers of the worst sort who spend every working moment searching the infernal engine for other people’s blogs.
I wrote a long response to Keith’s blog article at the time, hoping that would be the end of it.
Not so. New Year, new attack…
At least when Keith observed total dislike for bloggers, he showed consistency, and you could muster a modicum of respect for that. Not so in his latest article, dated 9th January 2007, entitled Blogging our way to the true story:
And a happy blogging New Year to bloggers everywhere. I don’t think. Or a happy New Year not, as the argot of the day has it. Meaning I cannot be doing with blogging, bloggers or blogs.
he swipes. As friendly as ever, I don’t think.
His disdain for personal blogs which discuss every aspect of family life ad nauseam is clear. That in itself is not particularly unusual, though why he can’t just ignore those blogs if he doesn’t want to read them – as everyone else can – I’m not sure.
Yet the hypocrisy begins when he moves on to “Citizen Journalism”.
But even worse than the braggadocio of Tarquin and Emma’s mumsy and popsy, is the rise and rise of the grandiosely-termed Citizen Journalism.
With a clutch of notable exceptions – the famous Drudge Report must be the first exercise in journo-bloggery to be in the running for the Pulitzer Prize – most so-called citizen journalists are a disgrace to the profession they would belong to if only they were allowed in it.
They print hearsay as hard fact. They lift news items from orthodox sources and embellish them in their own wild words. They twist the newspaper writer’s motto, which is Get It First, Get It Right, to read: Get It Second, Get It Wrong.
Mr Waterhouse makes it clear that he holds in contempt, almost without exception, anyone who would dare to offer news and opinion on the Web, yet is not a trained, professional journalist.
Except… when they’re photographers, and they can get somewhere that the mainstream media can’t. Then suddenly they’re heroes.
But as a non-blogging, Remington-thumping scribbler of the old school … I have to regurgitate, in the light of recent events, some of my own words.
To all pejorative references to the phrase ‘Citizen Journalist’, please add: “- unless they have a camera”.
He then proceeds to talk about Saddam Hussein’s execution – the ‘necktie party’ as he tactfully puts it.
The bloggers were there, though, armed with picture-snatching mobile phone cameras. The official photo coverage, taken to convince the world that the monster had indeed paid the price, were grisly enough.
The bloggers’ contribution – grabbed at the gallows either by a mini-mob of gleeful Shia interlopers or by the condemned prisoner’s guards themselves – shocked all right-thinking people.
Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the Unknown Blogger, who while by no means being the Cartier-Bresson of the Middle East, has shown us that the camera does not always lie.
I wrote yesterday of others who are unimpressed with “Citizen Journalism”, but here we see even the great Luddite that is Keith Waterhouse admit that, sometimes, bloggers gain an angle that more established sources miss. Indeed, they make the news.
Only if they have a camera though, apparently…