Friday, June 23, 2006

Decent blogging

A complete Tit, yesterday.

There’s a good letter in today’s paper from a Londoner called Chris Trude saying....

"… Britain is an overwhelmingly conservative country dominated by a conservative establishment, with a conservative media that day in day out bleats out an anti-Blair/Labour message. .....

....It is journalists and newspapers - even the Guardian - which have consistently let down the working class by ensuring a climate of mistrust has surrounded the most progressive government in the past century. Ordinary people will tell you how successful the Labour government has been in tackling poverty and raising the standard of living for the vast majority. Unfortunately, working-class views are never heard in our media."

I’ve left out an introductory gush about how wonderful Labour are, and I’m not as convinced as Chris about Labour’s successes. But s/he still makes a very good point. One that regular visitors here will be used to reading.

And like Shuggy, I’m consistently baffled by the left’s inability to grasp just how much the Labour leadership relish the opportunity to play to the right-wing gallery (this time on the question of Trident).

I share Shuggy's anti-nuke position. In fact, my view on lots of things haven’t changed since my days as an unreconstructed ‘80s spart. I’ve just realised that keeping quiet about this stuff is the only option. Large slices of the left serve only to make anyone who agrees with them look a complete tit.

I mention this as a preface to……

…..Dave Osler seems keen to respond to Iain Dale’s comments (in Tribune) about the relative stagnancy of the left-wing blogosphere.

Dave should take it with a pinch of salt IMHO.

For one thing, Iain’s notion (and perhaps Dave’s) of a good blog is not one that I’d share. Guido Fawkes for example, may be entertaining – if you like that sort of thing. But I don’t think that he adds anything of any value.

Is the world a better or wiser place because in now has a hypertext publication that appears to be positioned somewhere between the erstwhile Scallywag, the National Enquirer, the News of the Screws? I think not. I’d suggest that, if anything, it diminishes political life ever further – if that were possible.

While I’d accept that there is possibly a gap for a leftish version of Conservative Home. I’d suggest that most lefties with a brain and an RSS reader can construct their own version – and it would be better. I don’t need one site that compiles everything for me because I’ve got an RSS reader. If anything, a blog like this actually narrows the frame of reference for its users because they all end up reading and responding to the same stuff.

The Bloggers4Labour’s aggregator is good enough for me – I use it to make sure I don’t miss anything rather than as a first port of call. Which is why you – dear reader – benefit from such a glittering array of diversity here. ;-)

But the real substance of my disagreement with Dave here is his notion of what blogs are for, and what makes a good one. I think that Dave looks at this (as you would expect a journalist to do) in a journalistic way. The blogs he likes include his own (actually, fair enough - Dave is the far-left's premier blogger and he uses the site to publish original stuff that he may not have an immediate outlet for), and our mutual friend, Paul Anderson's Gauche (usually quiet while he catches up on his marking or that missed book-deadline).

Again, Gauche provides decent journalism - Paul is quite analytical and rigorous in a way that bloggers often aren't. So. It seems that Dave and Iain measure the quality of blogs by their ability to imitate existing offline publications – perhaps by providing an outlet for copy that would otherwise be spiked.

But, I'd suggest, that the world is not dying for a lack of journalists. It is suffering from a poor standard of public dialogue - and this is what bloggers can fix.

I’d suggest (indeed, I have done before ) that bloggers are at their best when they are documenting events in a different way to the way journalists do. As you would expect journalists to be, Dave is preoccupied by numbers of visitors, his lack of comments, and the relative popularity of his blog.

This would not have bothered Aristotle, so I won't let it bother me either (not with MY visitor numbers!).

Right wing bloggers are right to want to see US shock-jockery brought into everyone’s lives. As the letter writer (above) points out, populist politics, and the shabby way that journalists cover the subject is doing no-one any good. Blogging is only worthwhile if it raises the quality of debate.

Bloggers can help to change this. Whatever you think of the Euston Manifesto, one of the reasons that they are called the ‘decents’ is because this project is all about raising the standard of debate – particularly on the left. It shows what the blogosphere is capable of.

Even the Euston Manifesto’s critics (Dave being one of the more coherent of these) have acknowledged this.

So, Dave, if you want to wrest control of the left wing blogosphere, you could consider some site dedicated to improving the standards of your own lousy profession. But then, there’s probably only room for one group of ‘decents’.

Perhaps you should just roll over and sign the Euston Manifesto instead? ;-)

nb: This post is an attempt to replace one that was chewed up by the blogger software yesterday.


Paul Anderson said...

Bollocks to you too!

Paulie said...

Paul - I've amended the post - blogger chewed the nice bits about you out. I've replaced them as best I can from memory.

I still think that journalism and blogging are not the same thing though.

stroppybird said...

As someone who has recently got into blogging, and who is not a journalist, I don't think there is any one ideal type of blog.

Surely the point of the internet is to allow people to create different types of blogs and be more creative than in the printed word.

Its a way of getting views out and allowing debate . I would not have an outlet in the printed media but the internet allows me to create my own space. Of course this openness of access brings with it good, bad and indifferent.

There is room for all sorts.

The point though made by commentators on dave's blog is that the blogs just reflect the left in the non virtual world.

Paulie said...

Two things from that Stroppy.

I wasn't suggesting that there is one ideal type of blog. There is, of course, an important space for 'spiked' blogs - the copy that good journalists can't interest commercial publishers in (or that is too esoteric for existing titles).

But I was saying that they are at their best - and contribute the most - when they cover policy issues - and NOT in the way that blogs that are fixated with court politics do.

Secondly, on your point about reflecting the offline left, one of the virtues of the Euston Manifesto (no matter what you think about it) is that it is a product of the blogosphere. It is a political position of growing influence on the left that wouldn't exist otherwise.

Every change in the way that people share information (think of the printing press, through the telegraph to Usenet) results in new perspectives emerging - new groupings that didn't exist before.

I would suggest that a lot of the 'far left' (but by no means all) will be displaced by these new networks. And no bad thing, IMHO.

Tom said...

I agree.

People probably shouldn't leave comments like this on blogs, should they? Doesn't really add much. Oh well.