Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bloggertariat v Commentariat

I reckon I blew my chances of a column on The Times yesterday evening at the Editorial Intelligence Bloggertariat v Commentariat event. The first three speakers (Anne Spackman, Comment Editor of The Times, Martin Bright and Mick Fealty) had all been a bit matey so I decided to liven it up a bit. I knew the final speaker, David Aaronovitch would want something to get his teeth into, so I thought I'd oblige. Here's a rough account of how I opened...

The fact that the Twitter hashtag for this event is #eiblogger and not #ei comment rather indicates the organisers believe bloggers are winning. John Lloyd started by saying that he newspapers are dying because of blogs. They are not. They are dying because they have no strategy. They have poured millions of pounds into their online efforts without the faintest idea of the endgame. John Lloyd also says he hates blogs. Sometime I hate newspapers. Indeed I hate newspapers who delight in killing blogs. Last week The Times killed a blog for no other reason than it could. There was no journalistic reason to expose Night Jack's identity, and because The Times did that the rest of us are denied the opportunity to read a blog which shone a light into a world few of us know about. If The Times is so against anonymity perhaps it will tell us who its anonymous sources are when it writes that "a source close to the Prime Minister told The Times". But of course, this is the same newspaper that thinks unmasking a blogger is a big deal and yet turned down the opportunity to publish the MP expenses details...
Aaronovitch kept muttering insults all the way through that, I gather, yet strangely didn't argue with any of it in his own speech. Clearly he couldn't be bothered to answer the points raised by a mere blogger. He seemed far more bothered by the fact that Guido's commenters call him a ****. On this performance it was easy to see why. He flailed about all over the place informing us that columnists were all seeing, all knowing sages who we were damned lucky to have the opportunity to read. In the next breath he admitted to using blogs as research for his columns. He seemed particularly upset by my appearances on the TV talking about the Labour Party. "He knows nothing about the Labour Party and he's always wrong," he moaned. Was it me or Aaronovitch who predicted Hazel Blears' resignation before the Euro elections? Just askin'.

He ended by basically thumbing his nose at Mick and myself and telling us that he could interview somebody we would never ever get to interview. Er, wow. Thanks for that insight, Dave. After I had left, he apparently decided to slag me off to all and sundry. This is how one conversation went...

Aaronovitch: That Iain Dale is a complete idiot.
Neil Stewart: Er, David, let me introduce you to Shane Greer. He works for Iain Dale....
Aaronovitch: Er...

I've always rather liked David Aaronovitch, but last night he showed himself up. He did it in a vaguely entertaining way, but he demonstrated he just doesn't get new media or understand its potential. That's fine. Let him continue writing his crafted prose, and I'll continue what I do.

PS EI have filmed the event. I will post the links when they are up and you can make your own mind up about who came out of this with their dignity intact.

UPDATE: Mark Reckons has a comprehensive account of the debate HERE. Alex Smith of LabourList was none to impressed by DA HERE.

UPDATE: The Podcast of the event is now online HERE. My speech is about 30% of the way in and David A follows me.

71 comments:

Dick the Prick said...

That's funny. I don't think i've bought a newspaper for a couple of months now and can't really be bothered making an effort. Blogs & websites though Iain - I don't think it's possible to dis politics.home - it's a top drawer innovation.

Svenson Swanson said...

Maybe some of these folk should just lighten up a bit...
On a more important matter, how much money did the bookies take from those who betted on the 'other' candidates, one wonders.
I put a 'pony' on Alan Beith. it's the last time I vote Liberal.

tomandclaire said...

I gave up reading the Times in 2003 having had it delivered daily for 15 years, when I became totally fed up of it being the mouthpiece of New Labour. The Times and The Guardian seem to have taken to randomly swopping their writers.

Sue said...

Unfortunately, reporters for newspapers seem to have lost their spark for searching out a good story. Each online newspaper has the same headlines with just a differing of opinion depending on whether it's a Tory or Labour one.

They're boring.

Blogs and bloggers are real people sharing aspects of their work and opinions. Most of them are far better at researching their facts and providing good arguments for and against.

Fausty said...

It is the mark of a dying organisation when its fight to win poopularity and patronage manifests itself as an attack on its opponents. It shows lack of vision, direction and imagination.

I expect there will be further, more ferocious attacks on the blogosphere by those media outlets with the largest of debts or those whose readership is declining at the greatest rate.

GM said...

When I access a blog I know which blogger I am reading and make a conscious choice to go there. When I buy a newspaper, I may or may not read some of that paper's commentariat, but it is unlikely that I have bought it for a particular commentator, except in rare cases (eg Matthew Paris). I wouldn't like to say which is superior, but there are clearly different approaches, and some bloggers have significantly more readers than some commentators.

Thats News said...

Well done, Iain! Keep them on the run!

Anonymous said...

David Aaronovitch = Twat

Iain Dale = Good guy

Mirtha Tidville said...

The Times is bleeding money ergo Murdoch is not a happy bunny..(oh deepest of deep joy)..You are very charitable to aaronovitch Iain. I think he`s just a ranting silly arse with little much thats relevant to say...

Wont buy the Times again after their treatment of Night Jack & told them so.Think many others are of the same view...

Anonymous said...

DA first came to the public's attention in an infamous edition of University Challenge. His obnoxious, self regarding character was evident even then.

Jess The Dog said...

Aaronovitch is a pompous and self-deluded fool. I saw him speak at a discussion back in 2004, something about the role of the media following Iraq (how process-obsessed these people are). I asked him about WMD and the lack of them, and the difference between supposed "battlefield" and "strategic" WMD (it had recently emerged that the 45min intelligence had referred to "battlefield" chemical weapons and not SCUDs that could hit Cyprus or Israel) and he sneered at the question as mere detail.

The best thing about the blog world is it allows "ordinary" people with equally-valid opinions to speak out (if not more valid: I was a RAF officer who knew a bit about these things) rather than political debate being channeled through these self-opinionated and often self-appointed mouthpieces.

Aaronovitch is simply Derek Draper with a newspaper column....come the next election, he won't even have that!

VotR said...

The Times should be boycotted after what they did to NightJack. Then humiliated NJ even more by baiting him into writing a column that made him look even worse.
Gits.

'fights' as the word verification. Appropriate!

Lola said...

Of course Aaronovitch gets the new media. He gets that its going to reduce his personal franchise and hence value. Especially since whenever he writes another load of old lefty drivel a couple of hundred commenters pull apart his article with education logic and wit in about 60 minutes flat. This also applies to La Toynbee.

It never ceases to amaze me that blokes like him get all this credibility, just because they can write elegantly. Elegantly written drivel is still drivel.

Anonymous said...

David Aaronovitch is a ****.

You suffer, Iain from the 'nice tory' syndrome.

Attack, attack & attack this rabble.

The Young Oligarch said...

Well said , Iain .
The man's a pompous twit .

I make a point of not to read his column on the rare occasions I look at The Times .

Dave Raven said...

Recording of last night now published to http://ei.libsyn.com - with bleeps !

tally said...

The most nauseating headline Aaronovitch wrote re Scottish Independence was "don't spurn us I don't want to be English". Perhaps he shold piss off up to Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I was on the recieving end of a 'speech' from Aronotwat when he was president of the NUS. I thought he was a total c*** then. He's gone down in my estimation since.

no longer anonymous said...

"He seemed far more bothered by the fact that Guido's commenters call him a ****."

Clearly touched a nerve then.

JuliaM said...

"The best thing about the blog world is it allows "ordinary" people with equally-valid opinions to speak out (if not more valid: I was a RAF officer who knew a bit about these things) rather than political debate being channeled through these self-opinionated and often self-appointed mouthpieces."

And that's why the MSM is doomed. Once you've experienced this, why go back to the old media?

SHB said...

Both media have a role to play in todays world.

At the end of the day the consumer will choose one, both or none.

I personally think it would be a mistake on the part of the newspapers to ignore the rise in popularity of the 'blogoshpere'.

PS - nothing on the strike action at Lynsdey Oil Refinery?

Bearded Socialist said...

"That Iain Dale is a complete idiot."

Seconded

Ivor Biggun said...

"[Aaronovitch] seemed far more bothered by the fact that Guido's commenters call him a ****."

Sheesh, is he surprised? Pretty much everyone is a **** at some time or other according to Guido's commenters (including me) - he shuld be pleased they're interested enough to belittle him!

P.S. I rather like the family-friendly Guidoesque neologism for **** - Hoon is so apt - like calling someone a Berk it has an innocent ring to it, whilst saying exactly what's intended too! :-)

Anonymous said...

The MSM has been finished for a long time. They gave up journalism long ago please read Nick Davies' excellent book Flat Earth News.

My local paper ( which has operated a near monopoly for 150 years) is in dire trouble, but they are still arrogantly attacking all and sundry, claiming laughably that and I kid you not in 2009 the Interweb is a flash in the pan and won't last !!!!

Mike Law said...

Iain,

As a former Labour Party member of many, many years, I think you have a fairly decent grasp of the machinations that go on within the Labour Party.

Furthermore, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the top tier of Labour are a self serving bunch of opportunists that have no real political direction.

Elby the Beserk said...

Aaronovitch ... Arrogantovitch

Kate. said...

It's hard to argue back with a newspaper.

adam said...

Aaronovitch says elderly want to believe someone is going to kill them

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGzGi1lEO4c&feature=channel_page

Genius mainstream media commentaritwat

disillusioned Dale blog reader said...

Isn't he that annoying prat that used to show up on BBC2?

You must have had a hell of a cold. Your voice sounds very raspy. Hope you took my advice to eat curry?

You sound a bit scarey when you're angry!! I'm going to be more careful about the comments I leave in future and check that my blog is fully anonymous. ;-)

ANONYMITY - I can never say that bloody word. But you can - impressive!

Ed said...

Fantastic, Iain! Punch-the-air stuff. Everyone in the dead-tree (or dead-mike) press should be made to listen to the whole speech. Jackie Ashley will be especially pleased...

Simon Gardner said...

Well I think the newspapers are pissing in the wind. Look what is happening in the US now. I give the “Fleet Street” “broadsheets” maybe ten years.

Pity as I enjoy my paper but progress is progress.

Scary Mary said...

The Times didn't force NightJack to close down. He had already shut up shop weeks before they started their hunt. All The Times did was force him to take the blog offline.

DMC said...

I have listened to the Podcast.

Your spot on, accountability is non existent for Journalists.

The blogs are by far the best for news.

Anonymous said...

"After I had left, he apparently decided to slag me off to all and sundry. This is how one conversation went...
Aaronovitch: That Iain Dale is a complete idiot."

He is only saying what most people think.

Weygand said...

Aaronovitch's self-regard makes him so boring.

I never venture past the first paragraph of his column in the Times for fear that I may lose the will to live - today no exception.

Mind you, the way he manages his facial hair so as to pretend he has a chin is always good for a laugh.

It doesn't add up... said...

Calling someone a Berk - Ow! That hurts!. Does Aaronovich read Guido? Perhaps he dislikes being accused of being similar to the soon to be EU commissioner, Geoff Hoon?

One thing against the DTP is their employment of unintelligent hacks who are incapable of basic analysis of the spin they are presented with. Strangely, this seems to apply strongly to the DT, Times and even FT on occasion. The blogosphere has much more intelligent and observant comment to offer.

Plato said...

DA is an arse - I laughed out loud when his Tuesday column was described as sought out.

I actively avoid him as a total prat and full of crap too

sockpuppet said...

He seemed far more bothered by the fact that Guido's commenters call him a ****.

that's because he is a ****. There is always something depressing about seeing someone reasonably intelligent - and I suppose we must, grudgingly, allow him that - twist themselves in knots following the party line (or rather what would have been the party line when the party existed).

Incidentally, I'm spelling '****' with a 'c'. But only one.

Anonymous said...

Aaronavitch is and has ever been a complete tosser - this goes back at least as far as his days as president of the NUS, a position he clung onto long past the point at which people have moved on from student immaturity. He's just another North London mouth

Ivor Biggun said...

"Calling someone a Berk - Ow! That hurts!"

You realise, I take it, that Berk is rhyming slang for Berkeley Hunt, don't you? It might add up more if you did!

Still not figured it out? Think of a word that rhymes with hunt, or just look in any nearby mirror for a clue.

But of course Berk is much more innocuous sounding than that, so the cognoscenti can use it freely to describe Berks like your good self without scaring the horses at the same time :-)

Anonymous said...

Ivor Biggun is a complete Berk

Anonymous said...

And it's not rhyming slang for "Berkeley Hunt", you laughable Hoon, it's "Berkshire Hunt" as any fool know.....

Svenson Swanson said...

I have researched this at length and have discovered the following: 'Berk' arose in the 1930s as an abbreviation of either Berkshire Hunt or Berkeley Hunt, but there’s disagreement as to which is the true original phrase, both being plausible. The Royal Berkshire Hunt takes place, I understand, every year on Easter Monday. Whether the Berkeley Hunt is still held, I couldn’t say.

Origins aside, the crucial point is that Berkshire/Berkeley Hunt is rhyming slang for c*** — here in the sense of “dickhead” or “pain in the arse”. And, as we all know, two-word rhyming slang expressions almost always end up truncated — whence berk.

Here’s an interesting conundrum, though. The first syllable of both Berkshire and Berkeley is pronounced “bark” in England, so how come berk rhymes with “lurk”?

My conjecture is this. The official enunciation (“British Received Pronunciation”) may well be “bark”, but it’s doubtful that the Cockneys who invented this bit of rhyming slang would pronounce Berkshire/Berkeley that way.

Ivor Biggun said...

Ooh, a big bad anonymous has insulted me because he's annoyed at his own ignorance! Oooooooooooh! Oooooooooooooooh!

Elliot Kane said...

I think one of the main reasons why blogs are starting to win is that they are far more interactive than newspapers.

Even on the newspaper sites, you can write out a long and well thought out post in answer to their article (Those that allow long posts - The Times is especially frustrating, here) with no guarantee at all that it will ever be put up. They're just too fond of trying to control peoples' responses for their own good.

Bloggers tend to allow a lot more freedom of expression. This does have some very obvious downsides, but at least everyone gets to put their viewpoint across on a level playing field.

Blogs are more like a conversation; traditional media are more like being lectured. I know which I prefer...

Yak40 said...

Aaronovitch is simply Derek Draper with a newspaper column

Well said, Jess the Dog !

These lefty poseurs have had it their own way for far too long, now their very professional existence is under threat by the bloggers. I love it !

Dick the Prick said...

@Svenson Svenson - that's why blogs will win - interactive education. The other day Elby told me that Gil Scott Heron's dad used to play for Celtic - now, how cool is that considering Gil Scott is the coolest man on the planet and is even cooler now?!?

McKenzie said...

The truth will set you free! As they say. Long live the blogsphere.

Gaw said...

The terms of the debate seemed spookily similar to that conducted in the early 90s between academics and journalists. There are some enjoyable ironies, which I've tried to highlight here.

Toxic said...

Is Aaronovitch as greasy in person as he seems on the telly and is it a naturally secreted substance or does he apply it so the process of getting up his own arse is made easier.

Dr Snuggles said...

Aaronovitch is a pompous arrogant buffoon. His aggression stems from insecurity - he has a scintilla of insight into his own inadequacies.

Thomas Rossetti said...

Well said, Iain! Don't you find the imminent collapse of the MSM all rather amusing, though? I know I do.

Martin said...

Arachnoid is an idiot. He's up there will 5 bellies Toynbee, SIR Michael Shite and Steve Richards.

They are all idiots.

Desperate Dan said...

Newspapers are dying because they employ morons like Aaronovitch.

Desperate Dan said...

I predict Aaronovitch with write an article in praise of Bercow this week as a counterbalance to his usual foaming at the mouth hatefests directed towards the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Royal family and the English in general.

It doesn't add up... said...

Biggun should try running Berk and Ow together to get the next form of insult in the tradition of Hoon.

Incidentally, I've never heard anyone using the shorthand for the rhyming slang pronouncing it like the sound of a dog. Usually when insults related to dogs are spoken, they are either "cur" or a female dog (bitch).

Anonymous said...

Aaronovitch used to be passably interesting when he wrote for the Grauniad. Then he went to the Times and got that jumped-up attitude and ridiculous goatee to match. When he put on weight and ditched the spex he started to look 'Ming the Merciless' from Flash Gordon.

kasou said...

Wasnt Aaronovitch a BIG fan of Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor, telling us all the time how great Brown was at finance and management...I really must check some back issues of the Times.

Anybody got any links to Aaronovitch articles criticising New labour ?? pre Brown MP ??

Mummydude said...

I bet he supports Arsenal

Steve H said...

Interesting that DA doesn't see people calling him a c**t and conclude: hmmm...maybe I ought to work at being less of a c**t.

raincoatoptimism said...

That's left me rather upset. I thought Aaranovitch would have a little more punch to his arguments, but to be so ad hominem to such a nice man (twisted though his politics may be) as Mr. Dale. Shame.

Jim Baxter said...

Good stuff.

Iain: patently sincere, justifiably angry about what the shits did to NightJack.

DA: smug, complacent, oafish, ignorant, and petulant. He's certainly versatile.

Fin de siecle for the likes of him, and, as always, the 'elite' - in their own estimation - are the last to believe their time is up. Because they are smug, oafish, etc..

Anonymous said...

imagine,horse and coach,
or try that new thing with an engine and music,a car

ok i will take the horse and coach and get covered in shit,you can just hear them saying the car will never catch on.

and of course labour are still at it trying to get people out of cars.

i loath british papers,they are sex obsessed,control freaks.

dale winner.

Plenty said...

I think that Iain has summed up the newspaper industry brilliantly here. They are arrogant, believe they are superior to everybody, and are devious when it comes to giving credit to bloggers or citizen journalists when it matters. I'll give an example. I found a story for the once Aldershot News and Mail and was phoned up about it. The story was right on their patch and they didn't know about it, (it was quite a big story as it goes) they then promised to run it giving me credit and then hey presto, when I got the paper the next week, they had passed it off as if it was their own with no link to the CJ website I write for. Suffice to say it's that type of arrogance and snobbery which puts people off. And yet they are happy to use people's photos or stories for nothing when it really matters when they need 'live' content such as July 7 bombings. Bloggers, CJ's and MSM J's should be working together. Afterall, are we not involved in trying to expose the truth, even if it is in a different ways or means.

Rant over....

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain said: "[Aaronovitch] seemed far more bothered by the fact that Guido's commenters call him a ****."

But he is a complete Hoon!

Jabba the Cat said...

David Aaronovitch is a pompous little prick, like most of the other journalists at the Times, who will go down with the ship unaware of what is going on in the real world around him.

Conand said...

David Aaronovitch isn't a ****! He's a total ******* ****!!
David '******* ****' Aaronovitch is one of the reasons papers are dying.
David '******* ****' Aaronovitch is one of the fissures through which evil flows into this reality.

**** you David ****.

Brit.in.Aussie said...

Last week The Times killed a blog for no other reason than it could. There was no journalistic reason to expose Night Jack's identity, and because The Times did that the rest of us are denied the opportunity to read a blog which shone a light into a world few of us know about. If The Times is so against anonymity perhaps it will tell us who its anonymous sources are when it writes that "a source close to the Prime Minister told The Times". But of course, this is the same newspaper that thinks unmasking a blogger is a big deal and yet turned down the opportunity to publish the MP expenses details...

*clap* *clap* *clap*

Well said, Iain. Perhaps as a piece of devilment, someone should sue "The Times" for its anonymous source now that the legal precedent has been set.

BushBaby said...

Aaronvitch is an arrogant and quite a nasty bit of work. I know I have had correspondence with him in the past so full of his intellectual powers he often comes across as a pretentious prat.
He represents all that is wrong with the media today completely out of touch with the majority really like an MP.
Like many I have cancelled my sub to the Time after many years.

Caro said...

I read the Times online for facts, not comment. As a result I was only dimly aware of David Aaronovitch until today. Having listened to the podcast and read his Wikipedia entry, I am astonished that he has achieved a senior position on the Times - it speaks volumes about the degree of dumbing down at the paper.

I wouldn't bother attending such events in future, Iain. Your presence there just lends the commentariat a spurious credibility they don't deserve.

neil craig said...

Most bloggers actually try to tell the truth & most bloggers (except most Lib Dem ones surprisingly) allow adverse comments.

Neither applies to the MSM (see for example Iain MacWhirter's attack on bloggers in the Herald that Iain mentioned recently & the paper's refusal to print letters on the other side).