'The Spewings and Rantings of Very Drunk People Late at Night' - Andrew Marr

Mr Marr's quote, above, is referring to bloggers. Presumably he's not counting his esteemed colleagues Robert Peston, Stephanie Flanders, Gavin Hewitt, Rory Cellan-Jones, etc. amongst their numbers.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, he went on to say, "a lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people."

I suspect this may often be true. I myself am single, balding, live with my parents and at times I'm somewhat annoyed about the chain of events that led to this situation, (partially described here and here).

I feel Mr Marr's comment underlines the problems with mainstream journalism on the internet today. It more-or-less accurately describes the immediate truth of the matter*, but it fails to address or explain the underlying causes or events that led to the situation. There's no attempt at analysis, or to inform and explain to the reader the more important underlying truth behind the present situation. Instead, Mr Marr's comments are reminiscent of the style of certain "Comment Is Free" journalists, in that he has chosen to say something that, while arguably true, is a generalisation specifically designed to grab attention and encourage comment and controversy, rather than to deliver something that truly educates and informs the readership with informed analysis, commentary and debate - the latter being the hallmarks and noble goals of true journalists, in my humble opinion.

It is no exaggeration to say that if it wasn't for the woefully poor national coverage of the effects of the Single Status Agreement on local government throughout 2007 to the present day, then this blog would not exist. The inadequate online coverage the issue has received from mainstream journalism makes me almost angry, though of course I'm not going to rant about it.

That said, we only have a few oft-repeated sound-bites from his speech to go on so the whole thing may be getting blown out of proportion. His sound-bites include "it's fantastic at times", so I suspect his view is more nuanced than the sensationalist reporting might have us believe, and I personally suspect there may be more than a hint of irony present - notice that he went on to say, "Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk." [emphasis mine].

Additionally, I think it's only fair to point out that in recent months I have increasingly noticed flashes of more informative journalism on the web from various sources, including the BBC. For example, Robert Peston's guide to the banking collapse [PDF] is very informative for the uninitiated. Similarly, Stephanie Flanders produced a useful 3 part series on her blog explaining budget cutbacks for the less-economically literate. The Guardian's science section seems to have improved recently, and in defence of Comment is Free, Krishnan Guru Murthy's piece on this very subject is both entertaining and informative. And who doesn't enjoy reading Charlie Brooker?

It's tempting to launch an unqualified broadside against mainstream journalists in an attempt to attract controversy and publicity, but I feel that would be unprincipled journalism. Not that I'm qualified to comment on professional journalism, of course.

*With apologies to all bloggers who happen to be devastating attractive, married, well adjusted individuals with a full head of hair, living in their own house who only blog in a non-angry way about sunshine and flowers.

Edited 20.43, 21.10.11 - missing quotation mark added.