Walkley on blogs

The Walkley magazine (home of the Walkley awards for journalism – the nominees are in this issue), has a feature about blogging, including a bit from me. The money quote from the main article is

Daily Telegraph columnist Anita Quigley spoke for many journalists when she wrote on August 10, 2005: “Why some pimply-faced geek, sicko or average Joe Blow thinks someone else wants to read every random thought that crosses their mind is beyond me. Alongside the belief that we all have a novel in us – we haven’t – blogging is the ultimate form of narcissism.�

There’s also an online blogging forum, but it hasn’t really got started yet.

Also from the Telegraph, a piece by Malcom Farr, which I’ll link without comment. Hat tip, Surfdom

58 thoughts on “Walkley on blogs

  1. We are now in a world of infinite punditry and commenteriat. I bet they are ticked off that now anyone can compete with them in their previously protected industry. Punditry now has to provide quality and consistency to get eyeballs. For many of the lazy trolls that infest our mass media, I suspect they would not be able to compete without the protection of the mass media’s circulation.

    Why would I read Miranda Devine when Catallaxy is orders of magnitude better in quality and subject matter? Why would I read Alan Ramsey when Larvartus Prodeo exists?

    Bah.

  2. Blogging the ‘ultimate’ form of narcissism?

    What an inane statement. Where does the leave something like human cloning as a form of narcissism – the ultimate plus 1? 2.5?

    It’s this sort of reliance on stupid cliche that commenters on blogs rip into in real-time, and why I’ve lost interest in most commentators in the MSM.
    If they’re bloody professionals, why don’t they try writing better than the amateurs?

  3. Hmm, has Anita Quigley ever tried reading her rag and that of her past employers like The Sun in London ? Slightly more brain food than that free MX paper they hand out to commuters – only slightly. Has she tried reading the vacuous Sunday papers with their social diarists?

    Why some hack journalist with not much of an education or knowledge in anything except working for sensationalist tabloids thinks that someone else wants to read every random thought that crosses their mind is beyond me.

  4. Hey, I dont have any pimples!

    I think that Farr has half a point. Left wing blogs have better scientific substance but Right wing blogs have better comic form. Lefties seem to have forgotten the old maxim that “comedy is not pretty”. Uncivilized disucssion and coarse languare are de rigeur for the Right. If the Left want to raise a laugh they will have to raise some hackles.

  5. This from Malcolm Farr (cited above):

    “That’s what democracy is for – to save us from the humourless.”

    During the Howard years, at least, democracy seems to have failed abyssmally.

    (However, Tony Abbott’s discovery of the product of his teenage rumpy-pumpy, followed almost immediately by his discovery that he had been two-times all those years ago was, I admit, quite comical. Keep the yuks coming Tone.)

  6. I am sure that Jack would never say that his posts get the rest of the world rolling in the aisles, or perhaps I just miss the corruscating wit of the above remark.

    The real joke is that the paid jokers in Australia almost all come from the Left – just look at the big coloured thing in the middle of the letters page on any Australian broadsheet.

    The rest of us are mostly not funny, because it is hard work and requires a rare skill. Witness Nabakov or the Governor General or our beloved Flute. Or the occasional bouts of snark in places like Troppo or the one-day-to-return-in-glory Back Pages.

    What passes for funny in the Right is mostly just insult. Yer mother wears army boots. Yok Yok. Sometimes under a mantle of a pompous and easily concocted persona. “The Left, once again at its senile and self-defeating best..” Yok, yok again..

    We could do that stuff. Personally, I can’t be bothered because I have more important things to do with my time than wear a raincoat down in spittle city, convincing no-one and exercising no organ more valuable than my spleen.

    The Telegraph piece, of course, is simply hilarious. I will be emailing it to all my friends, who will immediately abandon all pretences of socialism, recognising the crushing power and rightness of Farr’s brilliant intellect, utterly confirmed by a sense of humour which could be used as weapon for freedom just amplified through tannoys suspended from low flying aircraft in Iraq.

  7. “Why some pimply-faced geek, sicko or average Joe Blow thinks someone else wants to read every random thought that crosses their mind is beyond me. Alongside the belief that we all have a novel in us – we haven’t – blogging is the ultimate form of narcissism.�

    FTR, Quigley’s boss, Rupert Murdoch, was happy to order all 175 of his newspapers to support the war. Murdoch’s politico-economic rationale for this order looks pretty flimsy in retrospect:

    Most revealing of all was Murdoch’s reference to the rationale for going to war, blatantly using the o-word. Politicians in the United States and Britain have strenuously denied the significance of oil, but Murdoch wasn’t so reticent. He believes that deposing the Iraqi leader would lead to cheaper oil. “The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy…would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in any country.”

    As Greg Cochran mordantly remarked later, the “War for Oil” had become “War for No Oil”.

    This example of MSM group think represented an abject failure of the press, and journalistic ethics, at a time when they were most needed. So Quigley should put her own house in order before engaging in catty, spiteful attacks against healthy competition.

    Whereas the cybersphere in general, and blogosphere in particular, at least played host to a much more useful and informative debate. The bloggers, pound for pound, packed far more investigative punch than the average Murdoch hack on the most important political issue of the noughties:

    Greg Cochran & Jerry Pournelle blew holes in the neo-cons WMD hoax before it got off the ground,

    Steve Sailer pointed out the pitfalls that Arab consanguinity posed to any attempt at Iraq nation building,

    Pr Nordhaus and Pr Q. shot the Pentagons cost estimates full of holes,

    some geek discovered that Downing Streets WMD dossier was plagiarised off the net; and

    – one errant “Joe Blow” figured out that Wolfowitz strategy was to make a “ditch the Saudis/hitch the Iraqis” US client state swap in Mesopotamia.

    Not all of these cyber sleuths are amateur bloggers. Some even have day jobs that involve journalism. But none of them could have made these discoveries without using blogoshpheric assets and modes of communication.

    So these “pimply-faced geek, sicko or average Joe Blow”, whatever their narcissistic disorders, compare well, morally and intellectually, with press hacks cheerleading a war for cheap oil.

  8. sigh…as a lefty I have to admit, the right definately generates more humour than the left. The Telegraph piece is evidence of this. It’s just a pity that so much of this humour is unintentional.

    Oh well.

  9. With puss,dripping from cheeks, i am taking it pretty hard here. Gone off me food. Miss all the jokes on, “The Insiders”,apart from the blokes on it. Are they going to tell us who caught the advertising contract for I.R. ?

    Maybe, a little media investigation into a business that is able to pay extras,who do not work,have no acting experience, cop 6000 dollars for half a days work? All at the taxpayers expense.

  10. I still find PJ O’Rourke funny. But it gets tired with repetition. How many PJ O’Rourke clones does the world really need?

  11. The issues are big, with the Right tending to be pro-Howard, pro-Bush and pro-Israel, and the Left the opposite.

    Is Israel such a huge controversy in Australia – right up there with Howard and Bush (and where’s Blair)? I’m surprised. I know a couple of Aussies here and I never detected any particular interest. Rather, I noticed, they do take a lot of interest in everything British, flying to London more often than others, even Brits (who often profess their dislike of their motherland). What’s the deal with Israel?

  12. “This example of MSM group think represented an abject failure of the press, and journalistic ethics, at a time when they were most needed. So Quigley should put her own house in order before engaging in catty, spiteful attacks against healthy competition.”

    Have to say I’m with Jack here.

    As for this whole right wingers are funnier thing thing, it seems they trot it out every 12 months or so, along with the “our chicks are sexier” and “South Park kool kidz rule” riffs. And every time they do, it smells more and like they’re trying to convince themselves more than anyone else – specially now as so many of their talismans and shibboleths from the Iraq war is good to steely-eyed rocketman Bush is in control to Howard’s got his finger on the nation’s pulse are all turning in front of their eyes to week-old kitty litter.

    I mean if you are really funny, sexy or cool, you don’t brag about it. You just are. Otherwise you just sound like a teenager desperate to convince yer mates you’re not a virgin.

  13. “If you are really funny, sexy or cool,” writes Nabakov, “you don’t brag about it.” You mean like Quiggin, Nab? This from January:

    “The left wing of Ozplogistan swept the awards, which is partly a reflection of who bothered to vote, but partly a reflection of the extent to which the left now dominates the virtual sphere in Australian politics, however poorly we may be doing In Real Life. When I started blogging in the distant days of 2002, right-wing bloggers dominated the scene. A year ago, I’d have said the balance was about the same as in the Australian electorate as a whole. Today, although there are some good right-wing and centre-right blogs, they are a distinct minority.�

    The left “dominates”? Brag on, John.

  14. u gotta luv how farr identifies tim blair as a funny blogger. because there’s nothing funnier than a writer with an obsessive-compulsion to correct the spelling mistakes of everyone else on earth. also, turkeys.

    he is clearly the very height of comedy, from which the left could learn a lot.

  15. There is a simple fact: the most talented writer’s are not working in the MSM.

    This is because the primary qualification for becoming an MSM opinion writer is not actually an ability to write, think or analyse, but rather overcoming the barriers to entry to that profession. Social networking and luck play a much greater role in the selection of MSM opinion writers than ability. The removal of those barriers to entry that blogging has allowed is mecilessly exposing this.

  16. Anyone who thinks the Right has a monopoly on humour has never read Fafblog.

    Did anyone hear the Ramona Koval / Hilary McPhee / Andrew Whatsisname panel discussion, from the Sydney Writers festival, on RN yesterday? Anyone else banging their head on the keyboard and moaning softly at the gratuitous insults of the MSM? a medium which allows people like Bolt and Alan Jones to maunder on at will?

  17. Helen – I started listening to that program but turned it off – couldn’t stand the self-satisfied tone about New Matilda – surely the most disappointing ‘left wing’ presence on the web.

  18. Science has proved that the main difference between the left and right of the blogosphere is that the right blog on the same topics and link to each other, and the left is just a bunch of unorganised slack-linking individuals, blogging all over the topic shop. At times I’ve even noticed that the cumpulsiveness of the right’s angst over organising topic conformity reaches to criticism of left bloggers if they don’t blog on some topics deemed totally compulsory, which is pretty strange if you think about it.

  19. The Right will always be funnier than the Left because humour is essentially deflationary ie taking the piss out of someone or thing. It is also a form of cruelty, which is something Right wingers take a certain malicious relish in inflicting.

    The Left tend to assume that human nature is better than it actually is. Whilst the Right do its best to make sure that human nature is as bad as it can get.

    So the Right will always be able to find or create space to topple idols. Therefore the Right will tend to be funnier than the Left, at least in a normal Open society.

    The last thirty years proves this, with most of the funniest political writing coming from the Right wing leaning satirists eg Orwell (sort of) Muggeridge, Solzyhenitzen, O’Rourke, K. Amis, Conquest, Waugh (E & A).

    Of course the Private Eye, National Lampoon and Nation Review crews could, at a pinch, be called Leftwing satirists. But they tended to be kicking at a rotting door. Once the Old Tory/WASP Establishment had died or been pensioned off the New Left had very little soft targets to aim at.

    And that was when the New Left itself became the softest and juiciest of targets.

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