Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A plea from a political 'journalist'

The Listener's political journalist Jane Clifton this week bewails the competition coming her way from bloggers, and from politician-bloggers.

And the poor dear -- who can frequently be found in her reports trying unsuccessfully to sort truth from spin (a job made more difficult by marriage to the odious Murray McCully, one would have thought) -- has good reason to worry.  Her political columns usually eschew analysis for gossip, and issues for sport; Clifton epitomises the journalist who ignores the effect of politics on those over whom the politicians seek power, and instead simply reports the 'game.'

Well, many of us have become heartily sick of our political reporting being served up in such a fashion by such insightless unworthies, and are eager for something she and most of her ilk are clearly unable to provide: intelligent analysis.  While bloggers don't always provide that, it's only early days, and it's clear enough from her bleating that the heat of competition is already holding a few feet to the fire.

If the likes of Clifton find their job and the way they're accustomed to do it made more difficult by the brighter light shone on their subject by bloggers than they can manage, then I'm all for it.

UPDATE:  Clifton's column appears to have been released to the internet inadvertently, and has now been withdrawn.  If you wish, however, you can read most of the cached version here.


  1. "Bloggers and their correspondents don’t have to put in the hard yards of daily journalists..."

    But they do get paid to, darling.

    Most bloggers are motivated by more than $

  2. I read Jane Clifton's book Political Animals, and it was pretty good.

    Her complaints about bloggers are pretty pathetic though, and it is the patronising we-know-best tone of it ("Oh, but the poor voters will get confused!") which is really awful.

    I was amused by her opening paragraph though:

    The sense that this was your job, that was someone else’s job, and woe betide anyone who tried to do anyone else’s work for them. Even if they were better at it.


  3. I read Jane Clifton's book Political Animals, and I was bored senseless before I was halfway through.

    I suspect you're right, Luke, to pick up what you did from that opening paragraph -- and the worthiness of the paragraph Lindsay M. cites -- but Clifton's not alone amongst her clique in being both banal, and fundamentally ignorant of the field in which they're paid large amounts of money to be an expert.

    Clifton is positively Einsteinesque as compared to the various blonde young things who gushingly appear before the camera these days to gush about how they've been in the presence of the great and good.

  4. Oops. That should read "Clifton is positively Einsteinesque, however, compared to

  5. 'Will nobody rid us of these non-union blogger types?'

  6. Jane found it very easy to criticise Jim Hickey over his presentation of the weather. So if we apply her rationale to that little tirade, she was risking a demarcation dispute with the weather presenters chapter of the broadcasters union.

    I think that the pressure of competition is showing on many professional journos. For many years they have been the judge and jury of what is presented to the masses and now they have some competition.

    Matt Drudge in the USA broke the Bill and Monica story. Perhaps his sources did not trust the MSM to play it straight.

    Get used to it Jane. There are choices available and when the MSM tries to charge for online editions the Blogosphere will grow more relevant


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