Monday, 13 December 2010

Opps I did it again!

Today's post was meant to be a lovely Christmas cheer number where I showed you all my black & white decorated Christmas tree. Might I just add how handy a Net-A-Porter ribbon is in a b&w theme!

But instead this might be the longest dullest issues based post known to the blogosphere. And all because of twitter! Now I could in my usual fashion, suck it in and refrain from even thinking about it. However I feel quite strongly that people do not have the right to 'shout' at you on twitter. The relevant bit being the 'at you'. To qualify, if I tweet rude words and do any name calling then in fairness the recipient or any member of the twitter community I offend can call me all the names under the sun back. I've managed to cause offence twice before on my blog posts by daring to hold views and believe me it is never intentional, in my head I think I'm debating, interrogating a subject matter.

In this instance I was most certainly not looking to be anything other than convivial. When I tweet about #xfactor then the tonality varies from witty to downright mean - in the context of the programme. For example I might/do take offence to Cher's dog lifts, a lot of the styling and 'Soyman'. Cheryl has provided great fodder with her use of the word 'dignity' and on Saturday night my best tweet ever didn't happen due to momentary internet malfunction when I lost my connection for 3 minutes. My best XFactor tweet ever was 'Rhianna get your hands off yourself & get them on Matt #xfactor' If you watched the programme you'll know what I mean. If you didn't Rhianna sang a duet with Matt but her stage entrance was more concerned with her running her hands up and down her front and dangerously within her 'front bottom'. Sorry for such sexual coyness.

Anyway yesterday I saw a tweet from Liberty London Girl which seemed very interesting and was on an article written by India Knight for The Sunday Times. The title of which was 'Poverty of desire keeps Oxbridge white and middle class'.

This was the tweet
i almost got whiplash from nodding along vigorously as I read @ 's ST column today [paywall]

This was my tweet

@ @ Would love to read it, hope it is in paper as obv won't pay/can't pay for ST online - sent out for newspaper

The response was (and can I just say I wasn't expecting a response as in my head my tweet was literal)

@ but why not?

@ Oh it is a Murdoch step too far even for me who doesn't care about these matters. Am v much a newspaper in hand/print gal!

@ I cldn;'t disagree more.ONline does not equal free. who the hell do you think pays the journalists?

Then this general tweet appeared from LLG

FED up to back teeth with paywall haters. gd journalism costs money. Online does not = free

@ Oh am not a hater, just like a newspaper, believe me my parents won't have sky as it is Murdoch, I'm ambivalent

For those of you who did buy the Sunday Times and were interested in the article it was on page 26 of the main paper. It wasn't a bad read. I thought many of the points were valid but it is by nature being columnist piece a rather large subject to any real justice too. Whatever is said is by its nature going to be simplistic in a piece of copy limited to x number of words.

The whole Oxbridge debate is enormous and complex. It is not just an issue of class or race but includes moral and political views and of course acknowledgement of the worth of academia. Oxford and Cambridge have a specific culture and this is not necessarily based on academic merit. It is not always in the top 3 or 5 on certain subjects due to poor teaching and teaching support. Yet both universities hold an enigmatic hold upon aspiration and worth. For some their mere attendance guarantees a standing in society regardless of anything other than the completion of their degree.

The danger of hierarchy is the fact it creates worth. I come from a family of two halves, one wealthy one poor. The wealthy family gave me an inheritance (not a large on lest you think otherwise although had I known about stocks and shares the MDS story may have been different) at the age of 21, a job for school hols at the paper they owned before it was sold to the Northcliffe group and a very successful and famous editor of a national newspaper as a godfather. It also determined my religious upbringing and despite this side of my family being very much part of the establishment they were also anti-establishment due to religion (Catholicism) and their socialist views.

My other family was very poor but massively pro education and also motivated by equality and socialism. The thrust of my upbringing was education frees you. You are free if you are well educated. My grandmother was a cleaner to pay for my father to go to university. My father was not allowed afforded the opportunity to apply to Oxbridge due to lack of income, despite his uncle's attendance at Oxford ( who was a famous Welsh writer who only attended university due to a miner's scholarship) My other great uncles died in the mines or at the front on the Spanish Civil War.

When my parents married they were assimilating two aspects of Welsh society in respect of wealth, but sharing a common social based philanthropic view of people bettering themselves and having every opportunity regardless of anything.

Now, if you are not yawning heavily at this the point due to my introspective post, the purpose of it, is to give you a background to the Murdoch remark in my tweets. I will freely admit to being a fickle chooser of causes and although I am strongly for fairness and equity on every level, I have despite many views of others and the fact my mum and dad won't buy a Murdoch paper or have Sky, happily do both. Nothing annoys my parents more but equally causes them to laugh when I suggest that the discovery of penicillin is nothing compared to the invention of Sky+.

One of the things I have learned over the years is if someone takes offence to what you say , then try to either rectify it or understand. Put yourself in someone else's shoes is something I try to do even if I favour the two fingers approach as a gut reaction.

Luckily for LLG I was in my post Christmas tree decoration hiatus, and prior to giving in to petit garcon's skateboarding demands. Because quite frankly I have no idea where the twitter rage/assault came from. I have to confess to mainly sniggering. It was quite frankly hilarious. I'm not sure if I was lumped in with the 'haters' but blimey must have touched a nerve. I don't like causing anyone to feel in a corner or defensive unless I'm challenging vindictive or nasty behaviour. However when someone get hoity toity and adopts hierarchical 'keeping the peasants' in order language you've got to laugh or have a stiff drink.

What is my view on paying for the Times online. Well quite frankly a business decision to adopt a model that generates income for the company is nothing to do with good journalism. I could add and I will, although it will sound or rather read quite piqued, since when have articles on the Mayr Clinic been good journalism? Also a column is writing not journalism. A paper relies upon a mix of journalism and contributing writers who may or may not be journalists by trade. Journalism was as a trade predicated upon discourse, investigation and reporting about stories. Lifestyle journalism and sports journalism are by products of the profession or trade that primarily concerned itself with news. I know I was schooled in these matters from an early age.

Journalism like any area of life has adapted, grown and expanded its remit and perspective. In this country you can still only be a newsreader if you hold an NCTJ qualification ( I do and have read the news once on radio!) but many people become journalists by experience on magazines, in a freelance capacity and by chance!

To be honest I find the whole hierarchical nature of anything regarding ones profession something for me to revolt against - I blame my upbringing m'lord. I would never question or query ones journalistic capability. I'm more than impressed and inspired by the blogosphere's egalitarian nature to give all and sundry the opportunity and freedom to write, to be journalists in whatever format.

Paying for online content from a newspaper is a choice. One is free to pay or to not. I think it is step too far to expect the Times Online pricing model to currently be worth engaging with. When you can buy the Sunday Times for £2.20 and read numerous articles and news stories at your leisure and away from the sodding computer screen plus irritate anyone in the vicinity with paper rustling then how does the online comparison compare? It took years to get SMS and MMS to work and at the right price in the mobile industry.

If I look at it logically it is an attempt to move printing towards the future - where we have an ipad or similar delivery pipe in our hands that we read from. Who can forget the fact newspaper printing was moved on in the mid 198os to the horror of many a small town evening newspaper proprietor. The impact of this and of course now the impact of the internet has been at the detriment of good investigative journalism. The sort of good journalism people define as reporting on local issues, or investigating corruption/bad practice at a local level. After all the national corruption of the MPs expense scandal took many many months to uncover and actually the national that broke with it got lucky due a good source.

Given my families very strong moral and political views and moving and shaking I am the breakaway one (amongst my siblings and cousins) who has followed her creative heart. The rest are all in the law, accountancy, engineering, teaching and business, oh and handily the DVLA! Like a good Welsh girl I married into another Welsh family (although quite frankly this was by chance as we both lived in England,). Regardless of both families politics/views we share one common bond a healthy disregard for the English class system. As they say in Wales 'there's posh' if anyone gets above their station in life.

So in response to the 'who you hell do you think pays the journalists' - the payroll department.


  1. I may be entirely missing her point here but didn't you offer to buy a paper? It's not like you were trying to blag the article for free, you're just exercising your right to choose the format in which your read it. You're perfectly within your rights not to like paying to read the news online (I'm with you on that one) and it's a bit of a cheek for anyone to speak to you like that. Especially as by buying the paper, you ARE the one paying the journalists...

  2. *That should say you read it, not your read it. Stupid cold fingers .

  3. Living where I do I seldom buy a paper, as it means driving miles to get one... I do however love to read good journalism, and I have enjoyed access to the papers online..without paying. Now this has changed I resign myself to the fact if I want to continue then I must either subscribe or pay the petrol..
    I think its is an inevitable step as how else will these businesses survive..
    I really enjoyed your post, I love it when you are angry xx

  4. Ruby Tuesday - absolutely! It comes down to personal circumstances/need/choice.

    I hope I'm not angry more exasperated by lack of manners! I always think you should be clear about your views but bullying/braying on any level even mildly is unacceptable. I love opinionated but loathe being 'told'.

  5. Alex - yep I doubt I will 'subscribe' to the Times online - yet. It has no relevance for me and is too costly when I can buy on demand from the newsagent.

  6. And btw - in general - I'm not saying don't subscribe to Times Online, just in case anyone thought I was!

  7. Sometimes the most innocuous comments can make people feel attacked, as obviously happened in this case. I've never heard of Liberty London Girl but my assumption is that she must consider herself to be a journalist type and felt you were denying her and her fellow journo's their livelihood? Or maybe not, I'm not a very good armchair psychologist.
    I do dislike this Passive Aggressive style of rebuttal though - own your rebuttal people!!
    By the way I'm also from Welsh stock and married into another Welsh family, all the way over here in Australia. Do Welsh people have homing magnets or something?

  8. As a big fan of LLG I'm shocked that she responded to your perfectly innocent tweet in such a needlessly ferocious way - it was incredibly undignified and I must say it's totally changed my opinion of her.

    People have a right to CHOOSE how they consume media, for god sake! I say this as a former journalist, it's NOT about who gets paid by whom (Christ!!) it's about presenting content to readers in a way which most appeals to their lifestyle.

    It's frankly SHOCKING that someone like LLG doesn't even know that.

    I think she should apologise on Twitter and I will no longer be reading her blog.

    Karen W

  9. Cybil - I think Welsh people do! We are the underdogs so feel no need to expose ourselves in any way!

    LLG is a journalist and I for one wouldn't deny any journo their income but business decisions are not journalism. Business processes and how to make money are decided by the owners or commercial team and hopefully the editorial top team do ahve a say. It is the sort of thing my husband does - goes into a company and say do x y and z and make people pay for it! Of course I say how could you do that - it is greedy. Journalists deserve and should get paid a decent income but also need to be respectful of whom they serve or inspire.

    Anon/ Karen - I don't want to put you off LLG, but thank you for understanding how taken a back I was. You know what she might have been having a really bad day and didn't take a think pill!

    I do think it is important for people to respect others views - that actually there isn't it is my way or the high way in life. Although I did catch myself wishing my 5 year old would just obey me, this weekend!

    I'll just carry on buying the paper xx

  10. I think this is one of those times where the opportunity to do real time discussions bites you on the bum, I mean LLG not you. With the blog posts, you can draft your post, review it ensuring that you are happy to publish what you want to say. With Twitter its immediate, quick and out there to the public before you can engage your brain. I think LLG's tweets were a knee-jerk and confused reaction to your quite positive tweet about buying a paper to read something she had suggested. Its a shame she felt the need to do so and I think we live in quite angry times unfortunately, it seems far easier to say something nasty than nice. PS I have to say I did find your post really interesting!

  11. I would perfer to read the S.Times in paper form too. My husband I split it up and read the parts that interest us. We also sit at the breakfast table on on the sofa to do it. It is lovely to get away from the computer screen. I also find it very cheeky that if want to take advantage of an offer running in the printed form I also have to buy the paper again online to take advantage of this.
    Talking of who pays for what - the newspapers pay photographers very little and in the Observers case have used 1 image of mine that I know of without my permission, a credit or payment. When I emailed the journalist who wrote the piece they never even bothered to respond. Xxxx

  12. I always figured advertisers were the main contributors to "paying the journalists," via the payroll department, of course;) But I'm no expert.

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  14. Mmmm... haven't got a lot of time for people who react like that in a public forum. How you spend your time and money is your business. After all, it's not like you weren't intending to spend money on the paper in the first place! Pay no attention to them.

  15. I have to tell you that I so enjoyed reading about your family and the importance of education. I so want to read the article and I would LOVE-LOVE-LOVE to read more about your family.
    So sorry you faced this drama. But I am so happy you posted this post.xoxo

  16. Dear Kate, I thought this was a very interesting post. I totally believe in education. I heard India Knight talking to Vanessa about the article the other day and I think it's an interesting debate, especially with people from different classes who won scholarships to Oxbridge educations. I believe in higher education for anyone who wants it.

    As for Twitter I forget I even have an account half the time and I do think sometimes things get totally lost in translation.

    Your X Factor tweets are very funny xx

  17. At last someone who is prepared to challenge. Advertisers make the media money and that is how editorial can fund itself. You or I paying online is small fry money. I'm extremely impressed your blog is, or seems to be a proper informative and entertaining blog.

  18. OK so firstly, and this is no secret, I dont understand bloody twitter so I dont really get what is going on. Only that LLG sounded like a tosser for no reason. The only news papers I like to buy are that, actual papers, so my puppies can piddle on it at night- I do hope this is helping pay the journalists.

  19. As you know my Claudia was featured in an article in the Times about "Proms" and I was really pissed off having always been able to access it online to now find I would have to pay to see the article again. It was a relative who had never seen it in the printed form I was trying to get the link for.

  20. Poos LLG! I think she often takes a very high-handed and self-righteous tone on her blog as well. I find it all very forgivable though because I imagine her being a very blustery and passionate in person, and liable to fly off the handle and say things she will regret later. (This is probably total projection-- always think everyone is like me.)
    Anyway, bottom line: you rule, clearly.
    Also, we have uncannily similar backgrounds!


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