Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Who's bullying who now?

I was going to leave the guardian travel blog thing alone, but it's infuriating how they're trying to rewrite the whole thing as 'cyber-bullying', when as most of the commenters themselves made clear what they were infuriated by a) the appallingly hackneyed theme of the blog itself (with apologies to Max, because of course the subject matter is important to him, he's nineteen years old), and b) the increasing obviousness that the thing was only commissioned in the first place because of a link to Skins, and the fact that his dad is already in the biz.

By constantly trying to reframe this as 'anonymous bullies gang up on poor youth', or some kind of 'class hatred' they're not only stirring up the whole business again (which can't be much fun for Max himself), they're also making themselves look worryingly as though they're circling the wagons against their own nasty, disagreeable readership, who are clearly only jealous because they wish they'd been commissioned themselves, whereas in fact they simply saw at least three levels of bullshit and claimed it as such.

A couple of reactions from other blogs:


I cannot help but think the Guardian has somewhat Fucked This Up.

UPDATE: Hurrah!


Caskared said...

Well put Mr Bluecat.

PS re: stuff, this occasional commenter says a big CONGRATS!

patroclus said...

To be fair to the Guardian, Emily Bell has actually managed to defuse the situation somewhat here.

All they need to do is talk to the commenters in the actual comments thread and everyone immediately calms down. That's almost the first rule of blogging.

John Soanes said...

As Patroclus points out, it's only somewhat defused, and EB's replies seem to have dwindled, especially since people are asking for the 's' word to be said, comments to be made on how the initial Guardian reaction was to claim it was bullying, and also the suggestions that a PR company may have been involved... more replies to these posts would probably help, lest it look a bit token again.

Though it's interesting to see it's not the Travel Editor posting this semi-volte-face, nor Rafael Behr, but Emily Bell, who... well, who could be argued to hold some rather muddled views about the relationship between writers and the internet.

Speaking as a London-dweller, incidentally, I agree completely about the smug and limited worldview of the Guardian - its weekend sections could quite easily be swapped with those of the Telegraph, or the Evening Standard's weekend magazine. Vapid and irrelevant in the extreme. Makes me feel glad I don't read it or any other paper...


rafael said...

Thanks. I learned two lessons from that episode:

1. Don't use a bogus peg to try to get a barely relevant point into print. Even if you say clearly that that's what you're doing.

2. When the comment editor phones at 11pm on Friday nght and says 'hey, raf. you know blogging. could you pleeeease write a column about this massive shitstorm that is guaranteed to get you covered in shit. You have two hours,' The answer should be no.

Oh, and massive congratulations. Load those snooker balls into a sock.* You're the daddy now!

*alan clarke reference, as I probably don't have to tell you, but will, just in case you think it is some sick sexual innuendo. still a bit sick. but not sexual.

Spinsterella said...


The whole debacle pissed me off on a multitude of different levels. including:

1. All the stuff that you've mentioned.


2. If you're a journalist you can expect to get a lot of flak: a kicking in forums, emails, phone calls and even occasionally face to face aggro from people who plain don't like what you've written. "Cyber-bullying"? oh, please.

3. ...plus the Cif-ers are notoriously, er, vocal. What did they expect?

4. Gogarty Pere saying "oooh, I've only written for the Guardian a few times". Well, that's still rather more than most.

5. So many of the comments said "shame on you Guardian" - this never got mentioned in the "cyber-bullying" follow-ups. Guardian readers are pretty loyal - it's no wonder such rampant, disgraceful nepotism set their collective teeth on edge.

6. Guardian readers include pretty much every media professional in the country. Those of us who (without daddies already on the payrole) have worked our arses off to wind up with jobs on Cross-Stitch Monthly, or to earn 12K on the Barrow Gurney Gazette (and feel honoured for the privilege) can be forgiven for the nasty taste in our mouths.

7. Slightly off topic - but I live commuting distance from London, yet still the London-centric-ness off all feature supplement pisses me off beyond measure. If I lived in Aberdeen I'd be sending cyanide through the post.

(I'd still put money on Max having a tidy little media job in 10 years.)

Um, also, massive congrats on the baby and stuff. What I came here for. Well done.

(Sorry for massively long-winded and tedious comment.)

james henry said...

Rafael: I had a very similar experience when I was asked to write the "Bob the Builder Responds To The Setting Up Of The European Central Bank" episode. Only it was much much worse.

Spinny: thanks! And Point 6 was the one I was really expecting someone on the site to get/respond to.