Writer’s blog

My attempts to present myself as a well-rounded and articulate individual appear to have been derailed by my involvement in the debate over production journalism. Of course, I’m still clinging to the ‘articulate’ label, but so far the dominant theme has been the media, and I’m afraid that’s not going to change now as I sit in the LCC library after a day teaching and try to take a breath. The alternative is to pick over the dreadful Spurs performance in the Ukraine last night, and that would give none of us any pleasure.

The industry seminar discussion on subbing and production has been well-covered here, and gave rise to three threads on Roy Greenslade’s blog, a couple on Press Gazette, a discussion on Radio 4 and numerous fragments on the indispensible journalism.co.uk/ It’s a much-needed debate, which has led to Roy backtracking significantly on his long-running crusade to prove the role of most subs redundant, although he appears to have retreated now into jokey dismissals of a so-called “subs’ fatwa”. No matter, the debate is about issues, not personalities.

That said, what strikes me about much of the discussion around the use of emerging technology and in particular social networking is how personalised and heated things get so quickly. This is partly a result of the difficulty of projecting tone in many, necessarily short, contributions to social media. I made the mistake of posting an ironic comment about web design on Roy’s blog and received some biting criticism of my own efforts because what I said was taken at face value when, in fact, I meant to make the very point my critics were making – that design is important.

There is a particular tendency among some evangelists of new media – to use a flawed label – to see even the slightest questioning of the life-enhancing benefits of whatever the latest thing is as evidence of dinosaur thinking. It’s all too easy to get hammered for not having multiple social bookmarks, Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, RSS feeds, interlinking links and savvy SEO strategies. This blog and my professional website, for example, are – the shame, the shame – far from perfect. That’s because I’m learning how to use stuff, and also learning what works best for me.

And yes, I know the headline of this post isn’t very search friendly. It’s Friday evening – OK!

People who hammer anyone who dips a toe into the waters for not having the absolutely latest and most sophisticated model are as bad as those who dismiss the possibilities offered by the wealth of resources we now have easily to hand. I sometimes wonder if what these people want to do is demonstrate how clever they are, rather than advance a debate.

More on this to come as the library has just announced the electricity will be turned off in five minutes. That’s not very new media.

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