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Monday, 11 October 2010

Free Spot Cream for All

We the `pimpled' will rise up and free the citizenry from our Marr-sters
This blog post can be read at

Andrew Marr says bloggers are 'inadequate, pimpled and single'

There is something rather sweet about the smell of fear amongst the establishment, not just in the morning, but at any time of day.

I remember, when I first started out as a journalist there was a huge degree of prejudice against anybody who had not spent years being scarred at the coal-face of the newspaper newsroom, abused by the fearsome (often Scottish) benevolent tyrants who ran their newsrooms with a rod of iron.

I was fortunate to learn what I do from a slightly different angle, in radio learning the technical and creative side of the art first, and the editorial in time. It helped my career that many of those who came into radio from the local newspapers had little clue about the technicalities of how the equipment worked, a situation which was made even more interesting by the migration from the world of quarter inch magnetic tape, to a world where ones and zeros are lovingly re-arranged into beautiful sound.

In recent times the younger generation has actually found this adaption to new technology much easier as it is remarkably similar to the software that they use to do their DJ mixes. What has been an irritating constant throughout my career is the way that Oxbridge graduates were fast-tracked through the system. This was largely because those in charge came from the same background, as with any organisatioin with its routes in the establishment, and modelled very much on the civil service.

The same technology which has allowed people to make their own DJ mixes has also allowed them to speak out and have a voice. What Andrew Marr is complaining about is not that single people with spots are speaking out, I think... But at the heart of his fears is a worry that the establishment is losing its ability to control the flow of opinions.

Yes, sometimes there is more heat than light shed, but in fora like this one, the people who are writing often have more light than most to shed on what is happening, or rather not happening. What establishment figures like Andrew Marr fear more than anything else is that they become irrelevant.

The Sunday morning AM programme may be seen as being a flagship for journalism, but in the trade it is what is known as `a clip machine'. Sunday is a quiet day for news, and the main job of the AM programme is to provide fodder for the bulletins later in the day. It's a kind of mutually beneficial relationship. Political parties target their weekend messages in interviews for The Andrew Marr Show, the show gladly gives them airtime because it gives the show Kudos when it credited on screen in bulletins later in the day.

The important thing about blogs like this one, is not that they allow ranters to sound off, but they give a space for discussions about topics, like rural broadband, which the mainstream media often find boring, believe me I've lost count of the times that I've had suggestions for stories about Broadband/fibre in the countryside knocked back by programme editors who said that listeners wouldn't be interested.

I once fought bitterly to get a piece on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours about the difficulties facing rural communities over internet access. Grudgingly the editor agreed to run it. That story got the biggest listener response of that week. I think at the heart of what Andrew Marr is saying is that only the people of his background have the right to set the agenda. That is becoming less and less tenable as access to the dissemination of information and opinion broadens.

Oh....and I am neither single, nor have spots.


Pauline said...

But you don't deny being "a cauliflour-nosed young man sitting in his mothers basement" ?? :-)

I reckon all Marr wanted was a cheap laugh, not to expose his ignorance. Oops.

Cybersavvy UK said...

I'd like to add that I am none of the above either.

Marr appears to be coming in for a little stick today!

Mark Holdstock said...

If my mother had a basement it would be full of all of my old anoraks and train sets, there wouldn't be room for me :). I would also suspect that Andrew Marr has personal reasons for being less than keen on bloggers ;)