As a postscript to today’s link to a BuzzMachine post on messy comments, here’s Doug Stanhope on why your opinion doesn’t matter, from Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe last month.
A curious correction in the Guardian on Saturday: for “inappropriate language” in its Guide magazine, published in the same newspaper. It would seem that someone spotted the potential fall-out, in time for a correction in the main section but not in time to amend the Guide.
So the Guardian has in fact apologised for something before the complaints came in and my Googling would suggest there’s has been little to no online comment (correct me if I’ve missed a forum thread etc.).
Apology: In today’s edition of the Guide there are two instances of inappropriate language. The headline for a film article on page 17, and the section in Charlie Brooker‘s column, page 52, which begins “Take Jews” were intended to be satirical but should not have appeared in the Guardian. Brooker says that he is “aghast at the prospect of my satiric intent not being clear, or my choice of words causing genuine upset”. These elements will not appear on the website versions of these articles and we apologise for any offence their inclusion in the Guide has caused.
As outlined above, the amendments were made for the online versions. In the headline case: “Hollywood might be run by Jews, sinners and Scientologists these days, but the Catholics once called the shots” became “Hollywood might be run by Scientologists these days, but the Catholics once called the shots” for the online edition.
In the other incident, Brooker’s Jewish analogy in his piece about MTV show Jersey Shore does not appear in the online version. Brooker criticised the programme for its ethnic stereotypes of Italian Americans and re-wrote its structure with examples of Jewish sterotypes, to explain how in another context a Jersey Shore format could be “altogether more incendiary”.
Brooker says it was satire, but it was of a kind that was later considered inappropriate by the Guardian editors. Who was right? Should the Guardian have pulled the extract?
Writing on LiveJournal, AlexS, thinks the correction was wrong:
Properly placed in the piece, this thought experiment is clearly intended to demonstrate just what a grubby little exercise Jersey Shore is. Anyone reading it in that context and failing to understand that it is satire rather than anti-Semitism is too stupid for their opinion to be worthy of consideration. But the ‘Corrections and Clarifications’ column says that while the piece was “intended to be satirical”, it “should not have appeared in the Guardian, before dragging Brooker himself on for a little Maoist self-criticism session. The Guardian: officially the paper for people too retarded or permanently offended to recognise satire.
British journalism was under attack from two fronts this week. Satoshi Kanazawa, evolutionary psychologist at the London school of Economics accused the UK press of making things up. And on Charlie Brooker’s satirical TV show Newswipe Heather Brooke, investigative journalist and freedom of information campaigner, lambasts UK journalists for not always attributing official sources and therefore avoiding accountability. [Update: watch the video and read Brooke’s comment to understand the difference between protecting confidential sources and not naming official spokespeople…]
The Guardian’s second (internal) hack day is imminent; the development team, members of the tech department and even journalists get together to play and build.
In preparation for the second, Simon Willison (@simonw), the lead developer behind the Guardian’s MPs’ expenses crowdsourcing application, has helpfully put together an (external) list of tools for non-developers: “sites, services and software that could be used for hacking without programming knowledge as a pre-requisite. ”
Since my last blog I’ve been on a press trip with other freelancers, which is something I’d whole-heartedly recommend. To be in the company of others such as yourself, and share stories about late payments, vague commissions and (grippingly) how to fill out tax returns, is a massive comfort.
Or it is to me anyway, who is finding the isolation one of the hardest things about freelancing. Not having anyone there to look forward to lunch with, or a fellow soul to share tea-rounds with is tough. Not to mention the lack of the sorely missed ‘post-work drink?’ offer or someone else to get excited about a story with.
But it wasn’t just the camaraderie that made the trip worth it – I got some interesting inside info on which editors are taking freelance commissions at the moment, who pays on time and who to avoid.
Something strange seems to keep happening to me in my new guise as a freelance. It’s crippling writer’s block, (though some might call it internet-abetted procrastination) which usually sets in during the last few acceptable working hours of the day.
It’s happened thrice now, me filling my creatively-stumped time with Twitter conversations (does virtual networking count as work?) or chuckling at Charlie Brooker.
Then suddenly, I’ll get a burst of inspired motivation, or a profound idea, just as my housemates burst through the door with that end of the day, ‘so-glad-to-be-home-and-crack-open-the-red’ gusto, flinging open the door to our communal lounge to find me hunched and furrow-browed over my laptop positively scowling at the interruption.
While I’m not drowning in commissions, I’m starting to get somewhere with some magazines, and I’m finding that websites and blogs are open to pitches and more likely to respond (though obviously less lucrative). One thing I’ve discovered, which has been incredibly handy, is going back over old features and finding a new angle and new market for them.
Taking a previous interview or idea, updating it, reworking it (obviously checking you’re not breaching any copyright agreements) and finding a specialist website or blog that is interested has made me a few extra quid here and there. It’s not enough to live off of course, but as it does for those smug, bum-slapping mums in the supermarket ads, when you’re freelancing in a recession, every little helps.
Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow the series ‘Mad to start freelancing in the recession?’ series here here.
The Guardian technology people have made this: a Guardian page of just Charlie Brooker. Nothing else. Just Charlie. It might be a case of widening the door frames in the Guardian buildings now, to aid Brooker’s access. Makes Stephen Fry’s website look pretty modest in comparison.
Following the surge of comments generated by Charlie Brooker’s Comment is Free article, he’s asking this week what impact search engine optimisation could have on the quality of journalism online.
To take his point to the extreme Brooker gives us a fully SEO-ready article complete with celebrity names, certain pharmaceutical brands and political links (I’d mention them by name but that would start a kind of SEO vicious circle for this post).
As one commenter points out, Brooker’s got it spot on – at the time of writing his article occupies the top five slots when you Google the key SEO terms shown below:
Jokes aside – Telegraph.co.uk’s Shane Richmond has given us some insight into the site’s SEO strategy, would be good to hear what might be going on with the Guardian.
After a surge of comments on his article last week, Charlie Brooker questions whether SEO could negatively impact journalism.