3.11.10

They don't care about the young folks

I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't think having a blog is a good idea if you want to be a journalist.

Yup, going against everything said by my good blogging compadres over at Wannabe Hacks (a five-piece
set of likely lads all trying to get into journalism), I'm pretty sure that everything I'm doing here is only damaging to my chances of ending up the next Hadley Freeman. No, bad example, she won a competition, though all my digits are crossed for the Elle Talent comp. Ok...Hannah Swerling. We love her.

A couple of things happened today which led me to decide this. First off, I discovered that someone had blocked me on Twitter, the realm where censorship is dead. What was most bizarre was that I only ever had nice things to say to this person. I have this thing I do that clearly some people find offensive - if I like something a person has done, I tell them. I tweet Caitlin Moran when she writes an amazing column, I tweet an editor when I love their magazine. And up until recently, I tweeted Mademoiselle, Elle's columnist, to tell her every time I read her column and loved it. That's basically one tweet a month. Well, guess I won't be doing that any more. It appears Mademoiselle didn't like this random affirmation that she is a great writer. I guess she doesn't need me to tell that: she has a column in the alternative fashion bible. So out I went, sweet simpering fan that I was.

I have quickly become disenchanted with Mademoiselle, in the same way I became disenchanted with Jane at Sea of Shoes when she never replied to my emails saying how big a fan I was (two other big name blogs that I love both replied to my emails). I can't wait for the new issue of Elle, but I will warily turn to the back page this time, in case it spits at me.

The other thing that happened was that a full blown blogger vs. journalist war erupted over on another blog that I follow. The blogger, taking inspiration from a Vogue article, gave us a guided tour of the piece and explained as she went along why she agreed, gave us little snippets of info, and summed up with a nice nod to the magazine by featuring its cover. This, according to a visiting journalist researching blogs (which is a massive compliment to the blogger, if it's true), was plagarism.

The war kicked off. The blogger neatly rebutted all the the comments, before signing off with a slightly sarcastic well-wishing, as any blogger does to the colloquially named 'trolls' who patrol the internet looking for people to needlessly abuse. Of course, this particular troll, as it transpired, was a journalist herself, and was subsequently defending the sisterhood, and saw the sarcastic rebuttal as testament to the popular belief that a blogger is just a parasite riding on the majestic body of the journalist, stealing their ideas, stealing their carefully-sourced pictures, and generally belittling their endeavours by rehashing it for their eager followers.

Never mind the journalist seeing this, as I did, as a sweet tribute to the issue of Vogue. As the war of words raged on at gattling-gun speed, I could only read and survey the way that the journalist went from rational commentor to sneering belittler in a few short sentences, making reference to an office of fellow journalists having a good laugh at the blog and its efforts to help promote a viewpoint shared by Vogue and the blogger in question.

The aftermath was that the blogger deleted all the comments, but not before a few fellow bloggers, myself included, had waded in. Now, baring the words of my mother in mind (who had a short chat with me when, during the election, I expressed my dislike for our now-Prime Minister over Facebook and she saw this as a bad move considering my current job-hunting status and potential employers' affiliations - truly she is wise), I thought long and hard about what to say to keep my head diplomatically above water. I said I would be interested to read the piece said journalist was writing about bloggers, and in response to her self-depricating statement about journalists hard at work sourcing images, asked whether they source the images themselves or whether the picture editor does. Apparently there was a response to this, but given that I'm a bit too irate and fragile right now to read bitchy diatribes, I'm kind of glad it's gone.

So, we're at a standoff. The journalist is probably at her office, toasting her success with the rest of her cackling office and hunting for the next victim, and the blogger is probably back hard at work 'plagarising'. Nobody wins.

Some of you will remember my extensive post on the importance of bloggers, and the interesting response it generated from journalists and bloggers alike. This recent incident helps prove to me a few things. Firstly, the two sides will never see eye to eye. One exists to undermine the other, and one believes it is far above being undermined. How on earth does one bridge the gap from blogger to journalist, if this example (and I must stress - IT IS JUST AN EXAMPLE. I am not stupid or naive enough to believe that said journalist and said blogger are the only kind out there) is to be examined. And since pretty much every journalist is copying eachother anyway...

Sorry, that was crossing the line. Or was it? The same blogger wrote a post a while back about a certain magazine running a spread on 'the aviator jacket' in their current issue, a trend that I'm pretty sure every magazine on the newsstand has written about. Is this plagarism? Who are they plagarising, Burberry? Who wrote about it first? Have they sued yet? Of course they haven't. When something is broadly accepted, so obviously newsworthy, it's logical that everyone will talk about it. The media is going nuts for Lanvin Hearts H&M, or for the elections in America and Brazil, or that unspeakable oaf who claims to play football's huge paypacket. What kind of magazine wouldn't talk about it? So no-one calls it plagarism when three, four or all magazines write a piece on the must-have jacket for winter. No-one calls it plagarism when four magazines run a fashion spread on 70s style or (cringe) Mad Men chic. So if a blog, which by definition is nowhere near on a high enough level to be accountable for plagarism anyway, since it's purely a matter of personal opinion, takes inspiration from a magazine's article to promote an opinion of theirs, what is that?

Clearly, the lines are getting blurred. Nobody's making friends here.
(Image via geektyrant.com. See, no plagarising without credit here!)

It's quite clear that if you want to have a presence online as a blogger as opposed to just a commentor, you're going to get your hands dirty. If your blog exists solely to act as a diary to your poor little life (sorry, my inner Andrew Marr popped up there) then you have nothing to fear from making enemies. But if, like some of us, you hope to use your blog as a tool to advance you in the media, then you'd better start practising the same things that journalists abide by - censorship, tact, decorum and above all, anonymity.

I am still struggling with this one. Over the past few months, this blog has deteriorated from a decent catalogue of my catwalk inspirations, mental mood boards and interesting debates into just snapshots of my existential-crisis-filled little life. Which isn't really going to help anyone.

But enough about me. Because, as is quite clear from the unfollowing, I'm just an irritant, and not important enough for it to matter.

Except, as is made quite clear by the Andrew Marr incident, and this recent Vogue-gate, some bloggers are. The battle lines have been drawn. Nobody is friends with anyone any more on their route to the top. Once you're there, you can say what you like, but until you get there, your blog should be little more than a good portfolio with evidence of your writing style, attention to detail and research skills.
And it's only when you've earned the right to an opinion, after years of hard work, can you emerge from under your rock.
Uh-oh. I may be in trouble over this one.

12 comments:

  1. Amazing, Red. So well put. I've never been under any illusion that blogging helps a journalists career either. I'm unsure whether to post the piece I have written about this! x

    ReplyDelete
  2. And IAmMademoiselle has blocked you?? Why?

    ReplyDelete
  3. If I knew that, there'd be no need for part of this post, or for me metaphorically wandering the internet like Echo, sobbing and crying 'why don't you like meeeeeeee?' :P

    ReplyDelete
  4. If I see another article on "Mad Men Chic," I'm seriously going to implode. Ughhghhhh.

    I think much of the fashion industry has found a way to use bloggers, and maybe this intimidates SOME journalists, even though it shouldn't. Blogging and journalism are totally different entities.

    It's funny though, because MANY bloggers are stylists (both Elin Kling and her assistant have blogs, I think Caroline of Stockholm StreetStyle is also a stylist. Some younger bloggers also use their blog to showcase their styling experience, but you don't really see non-blogging stylists complaining about it, only journalists. Putting your body of work on the internet can definitely give you an edge, but it can also be a huge disadvantage if you mess up in some way, and I think with journalism and journalistic style blogging, you make yourself more vulnerable than showcasing your styling or even personal style.

    And I have a big problem with restraint.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, I've seen this come up before. The lines have certainly become blurred. I'd say that a blogger is a portion of journalism -- there's still something sacred about the journalistic profession that will never be marred by whimsical nature of blogging.

    The Black Queen

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the comments guys! Taylor, I know what you mean about restraint....
    Queen of Hearts - it's the supposed 'sanctity' of journalism vs. the 'whimsical' (or amateurish) nature of blogging that is the thing that confuses me. If there's such a huge elevation between a piece of journalism and a blog piece, how do you make the jump? The only conclusion can be that they bear no relation to eachother, when of course, with some of the 'better' blogs, there's very little difference, if any. Both are opinions reported as news (at their best - compare Tavi's breakdown of the Resort collections with that by an Elle writer, or Guido Fawkes vs Alice Miles), just one is closely edited and showcased as fact because it's printed, published, paid for. I think that there is a huge divide between a journalist's worth and a blogger's, but I'm still unsure what that divide is. I guess it's that bloggers can say what they want, but fewer people will listen or take them seriously, and since everyone blogs, it's hard to distinguish your portfolio.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just want to write. I really get off on blogging because it's the only way an unpublished writer like me could reach people all over the world. Hopefully someday I'll get paid to do it, but this isn't bad for the interim.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello there! Not seen you in a while :) Agree with you there: I just want to write too. But I also want to write for a living and this is as good a platform for a portfolio as any. Shame I thus shouldn't use it to mercilessly rant. Maybe I need two blogs...

    ReplyDelete
  9. God this is such an old, old storyline, professional fashion editors getting pissed off at bloggers for having the temerity to comment on their precious territory. I had a similar episode on my own blog years ago, and it helped that the pro journo in question was an incoherent snob and the designer he was speaking in defence of wasn't any better. I had to shut off comments because stuff was getting abusive (aspersions on people's masculinity, threats to me etc).

    I do think you have an interesting take on the issue though.

    ReplyDelete
  10. WOW. I need to know about Vogue-gate. email me the details, PLEASE!!!

    and also---I'm going straight to see that bitch whho blocked you. xo

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hello Sister! Unfortunately, it's transpired that the 'journalist' is either completely off the radar or a fake. I'm going to go with a nice mixture of both.

    ReplyDelete