Monday 11 October 2010

The hypocrisy of Andrew Marr

I always found, in my dealings with Andrew Marr that he was a cold, arrogant, snobby know it all. He would rather send a lowly assistant producer over to talk to me even if I was sat at the same table as him. A large number of people find that his personality shows in the production of his flagship political talk show. This is also cold, arrogant and snobby.

The Telegraph has reported a talk Marr has given to the Cheltenham Literature Festival at the weekend in which he said:

"Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. 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.

"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."

I have to admit to matching his description of a blogger on only one count I'm afraid, and I am not about to rant in response to Marr's rant.

What I will do is quote a passage from the conclusion to Marr's short history of British journalism entitled 'My Trade' - what else - in which he describes the state of modern journalism:

"The truth is, across the industry, we have seen a huge increase in  'here's one I made earlier' journalism, the journalism of people sitting in front of screens in airless offices on the outskirts of towns, under the lash to be 'productive' - that is to churn out repetitive stories by rote....This is why so many papers, from the upmarket to the downmarket, carry the same stories, often treated in the same bland way."

This is precisely why citizen journalism and blogging now, and increasingly, drives the agenda. In a sense modern citizen journalism is a return to journalism's roots, when tens of thousands of people wrote for themselves publishing weekly pamphlets on religion and politics. These pamphlets were often dreadfully partisan and sometimes were little more than published rants.

Journalism developed and became professional. In turn, as Marr points out, it has also become sanitised. Instead of dismissing citizen journalism, perhaps Marr should stop being quite so snobby and instead recognise that a return to journalism's roots is the kick up the back-side his trade so badly needed.   

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