Independent newspaper lashes out at independent publishers

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 24, 2006

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Monday, July 24th, 2006
10:09 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

For some reason the Independent is having a go at bloggers…

The fragrantly-hyphenated Janet Street-Porter kicked things off yesterday with this charming piece:

Janet Street-Porter – Editor-At-Large: Blog off… You don’t want to know what I weigh today (do you?)

The tastiest comments are hidden behind the subscription wall, but I dare to share:

“The web is fast becoming clogged with blogs; the verbal diarrhoea of the under-educated and banal.”

“Blogs are for anoraks who couldn’t get published any other way.”

And the day after Janet Street-Porter assured her readers that blogs contained inconsequential information published by inconsequential people, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown put her hyphen to work to put forward another case; that blogs contained dangerous information published by dangerous people… before dismissing the whole thing as a fad. Of the inconsequential variety, obviously…

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – Hounded by assaults from cyberspace

Yasmin starts out by assuring us that “the internet has already become a coffee shop for paedophiles and violent fantasists,” and follows this wonderful guilt-by-association opener with this charming passage. From her back-passage…

“Where do blog writers and surfers find the time? When do they do the washing, cooking, eating, talking, cuddling, story reading to kids? Do they never help with school homework, go to the theatre, make love, read books, talk to friends, entertain?”

Well, there you have it. I hang out with paedophiles *and* I neglect my kids. Further, I have failed to fulfill certain cultural obligations, and have thus proven myself to be under-educated and banal.

I think I can be excused for thinking there’s something coordinated going on here.

Who exactly decided that our cages needed rattling? And why?


  1. snooo says

    “The web is fast becoming clogged with blogs; the verbal diarrhoea of the under-educated and banal.”Funny – sounds like an issue of the Independent on Sunday. As edited by…. Janet Street-Porter!Seriously, if you are looking for under-educated, faux-intellectuals posing banal observations as insight, that paper is the place to go.

  2. Lancey says

    The Indy published a similarly insensible rant about women and blogging a couple of weeks ago, I'm really starting to suspect it's all part of a plan to provoke bloggers into writing about the Indy, thereby raising the paper's profile.Had a bit of a rant on my blog about all of this and linked to you since this was the only other blog I could find that mentioned JSP's drivel this weekend.LC

  3. Jherad says

    Worry less.Much has been made of the rise in blogging over the last few years, with some going so far as to call it the future of news media. I wouldn’t say that – but it does play an important role, and a few visionary reporter/writer types have had the sense to recognise that the future of news reporting involves, rather than excludes the blogosphere.Of course, some old types might see this as a threat to ‘their terrority’, if any Tom, Dick or Harry can write articles and reach an audience, without having had to tread the boards first. Those desperate enough for attention to participate in ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’ may qualify in that category.

  4. Manic says

    Point. It’s not the first time blogging has been dismissed as a ‘passing fad’, either… but I’d still be interested to know what’s behind this (seemingly) coordinated assault.

  5. beaubodor says

    I would think their views may have something to do with the fact that The Independent’s web presence is based on paying for most of its content.I am a frequent Indy newsprint reader but am frustrated that its strength (comment and in-depth articles) is hidden behind a subscription service.It’s a bloody scandal that Fisk is being blocked, especially during the current events.

  6. balders says

    The Indy’s reasons are either nimby-ism on the part of the correspondants or – and this is more likely – a minor rant against the fact that a lot of bloggers quote from the Indy’s subscription content, potentially depriving the paper of some revenue. Throw in some snobbery as well, along with sneering distaste of the inherent socialism of blogging and you probably have your answer.

  7. septicisle says

    Also have to wonder if it’s a concealed attack on the Grauniad – Comment is Free has been rather successful.

  8. Ministry of Truth says

    The Fishwives of Fleet Street

    Episode # – shit I’ve lost count – in the new reality show that’s sweeping the nation, the commentariat -vs- bloggerati, and it’s time for the Indy’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to wade into the fray on the side of the pro’s&#823…

  9. Unity says

    One interesting point about Y A-B’s piece – a quick bit of fact-checking using Google and Technorati turns up nothing at all for her claim that bloggers started off the rumour that she’s secretly a Baha’i and the only references I can find to the burka story she claims Mulsim bloggers have been trying to debunk are a few drooling approval pieces by in the comments at Harry’s Place and by Wardytron and Dhimmiwatch, so unless someone can turn up supporting evidence from the non-English blogosphhere it looks very much likes she’s embelishing her tale of woe.Full fisk, with more quotes from thr article, here –

  10. FifeTwat (tm) says

    Are you aware that the News Of The World in Scotland has launched a campaign to censor the Internet because of teen suicide sites?In the opening part of the campaign, the NOTW said words to the effect of, “if China can censor the internet, why can’t we?” as if the censorship is a good thing.Although I feel sorry for the people involved, I really don’t think censorship of the internet can work, simply because you can use a proxy to retrieve content.I don’t have an alternative solution to the problem. When one site is closed down another could pop up.

  11. Jherad says

    After a bit of a think, and a read of the Ministry of Truth blog article, I’ve changed my mind a bit.I still think some journalists are a bit peeved at bloggers writing ‘news’ without having walked the establishment career path, but I also believe there may be something a little more primal in it. Namely, a shift in power between the author and reader – or more to the point now, author and *commenter*.I write an article, you can read it or not read it – discuss it with friends if you will, but I don’t give a rat’s if you think I’m barking mad, a Nazi sympathiser, or simply lacking in fact… I certainly don’t want to *read* the uneducated responses of the great unwashed…. Except that isn’t necessarily an option any more.Where journalism was a simple transfer of ‘great truth’ from the master reporter to the pupil prole, and peer review was done only sparingly by the elite few, now the sky is the limit. Articles frequently allow comments, and/or have entire blog articles picking them to pieces – the arguments that an article presents can be strengthened or weakened by comments and blogs about it. A few lucky authors (like, for example, Polly Toynbee) even have blogs *dedicated* to picking their articles apart.For some journalists, gosh-darnit, it just ain’t cricket. They want the good old days back, when they can stand at the head of class and preach their gospel- the children listening attentively. Take what you’re given, and like it – or don’t read it.

  12. richard says

    I suspect that poor Janet and Yasmin may simply have been reading the wrong blogs, but even so their condescending dismissal of the entire blogosphere smacks of self-interested bigotry. Is it even worth pointing out the number of people (Craig Murray, Rachel North etc.) who happily cross back and forth between writing for the mainstream media and blogging?It’s hard to avoid the impression that Yasmin, having successfully manoevred herself and her dazzlingly banal Toynbee-esque social commentary into some kind of priveleged position in the media, is now feeling threatened by the diversity of far more interesting and eloquent voices that do what she does for free, and better…

  13. Indigo Jo Blogs says

    Blogs and their relevance (or lack thereof)

    Last weekend Janet Street-Porter wrote for the Independent rubbishing the entire medium of blogs, while Yasmin Alibhai-Brown last monday wrote for the same paper suggesting that bloggers must have no life (you can read the opening extract here; the who…

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