Thankyou, And Goodnight

If Forbes magazine is to be believed, Ireland is the perfect country for blogging. Its people are naturally loquacious and in a time of great socio-economic change, they were the ideal nation to narrate their stories in a clash of wit upon wit, unfettered by the threat of invitation to take it outside. It would also, although Forbes did not make this point, give them something to do of a Friday night if the plans to reduce the drink drive limit come to fruition.
If Forbes magazine is to be further believed, Irish blogging is dead. They cite an article from the Irish Sunday Times as evidence. Can there really be any rebuttal to such a compelling line of reasoning?

To be honest, I’ve don’t really understand what position blogging is supposed to hold in the world. The impression I garner from the print media is that bloggers should be an online equivalent of them; blogs should break news, give analysis and opinion as well as producing high quality content on a regular (preferably daily) basis. This is clearly nonsense. The day I start delivering content on a daily basis is the day I have been locked in a room with only word processing software for company.

Also, unless a person is directly involved in an event, they are not going to be able to get a story online more quickly than a news organisation. At best, they will have a few hours head start. Once this head start is lost, they will be competing against specialist analysts who are able to pull their factual information from the wire agencies rather than finding it out themselves. No blogger is going to be able to consistently provide a breaking news service to rival the networks and yet, this is what the print media seems to think they should be doing.

Another complaint levelled at bloggers is their failure to hold politicians to account. Forgive me for being sensible about this, but surely that’s the job of the free press. I know that the British liberation forces spent many, many years suppressing the Irish media so there isn’t quite the print tradition there is in other countries, but it’s been the best part of a century since then. You can’t tell me nobody has managed to get a grip on the idea that they can print what they want to, yet.
Perhaps the print media feel that bloggers have more freedom than they do. After all, a blogger can’t be sacked if the person who owns their blog plays golf with the person they’ve just written an exposé on. A blogger can, if they wish to, retain a degree of anonymity or, if they are particularly tech savvy, create almost total anonymity.
However. A blogger is also denied the protection of a publisher. Anything they write, they are responsible for in the way that print journalist is not.

Let’s say I am a journalist. I drink too much and my wife has left me. When we met she was the greatest broad on the block but she couldn’t take my obsession with Big PJ O’MacDonagh. I knew he had something mean going down in those Waterford back alleys but I needed to find the proof. If I spent enough time in those dark underbellies, I’d find it for sure, but all she wanted was a trip to Ikea Dublin and eventually, she found a man who’d take her there and assemble her flat pack furniture when she got back.
So there’s me, in the pub, with a cigarillo. There’s Big PJ O’MacDonagh in the corner drinking a Cosmopolitan. Sean Og Cumhail is next to him with a Long Island Iced Tea. Both men have a white wine spritzer chaser. I know there’s something going on. I remember what went down in Wexford. Some nights I still wake up screaming with the smell of courgettes in my nostrils.
So, I move closer until I can overhear their conversation perfectly and when I get home, I immediately write down all the nefarious schemes they are planning. I don’t have any proof but my editor publishes it anyway. The following morning, the paper is sued.

By contrast, if our hero were a blogger who wrote something without any proof and published it on the interwebs, they would be the person being sued. It is the publisher who is held responsible for what is printed, not the writer. Is it any wonder then, that bloggers are unwilling to put their necks on the line? Even if they did, what would it be for? A temporary surge in blog traffic?

The other reason there are no investigative bloggers around here is because the Irish have what He Who Knows Everything refers to as a “peasant mentality”. When they come across somebody doing something a bit shady or underhand, they do not immediately away to the Justice mobile and bust the whole thing wide open, they try to work out how they can get in on the act.
Heaven alone knows how many euro are drained from the social welfare network each year by people who live together but pretend not to because single mothers get more welfare than married ones. The amount of people I’ve heard openly boasting about this kind of thing is unreal and that’s just people. Add in all the schemes the Travellers get up to and it must equate to millions. Not so long ago I read a story in the local rag about a traveller family who were caught trying to get their child christened a week after they’d had him christened in a different parish. The only reason they were caught is because the priest performing the service was filling in for the regular priest and just happened to have performed the first service from the week before and recognised them. This is why christening certificates tend not to be accepted as proof of identity.

So, what if blogs are not intended to challenge the status of the traditional print media? What if they are merely a pleasant diversion from whatever important job is awaiting your attention? Well the canny print media has already thought of this one. There is no need for blogs like that because newspapers already have amusing comment sections and in any case, goes the argument, blogs are not as well written, nor as funny as something which somebody gets paid for writing.
There, the print media may have a point. Blogs are not as well written as the print media tends to be. I’m incredibly good looking and clever but I make a heck of a lot of typos, malapropisms and factual inaccuracies. Yes, most of it is to do with the dyslexia but some of it is down to not having a sub-editor who is not me. Unless you are Giles Coren, you need a sub-editor.

It seems to be generally considered that the top Irish humour blog is Twenty Major’s. He has won best Irish blog for two years running and would probably have one it again this year had he not kindly put himself out of the running (or so Wikipedia tells me). He already has one published novel based upon his blog and a second is forthcoming. You would, in that case, expect the blog to be quite good.
It is… sort of. Were I to describe it I would probably go for “nothing particularly wrong with it”. I can appreciate why people like it but I’ve never read anything on there which is funnier than a column written by Charlie Brooker or Tanya Gold. It’s certainly not going to rival some of the genius available around the interwebs (Awkward Family Photo, anybody?). Yet, this is held up as the best blog Ireland has to offer.

To claim that Irish blogging is dead is the kind of vague, badly researched statement that remind us the print media needs just about anything to fill the pages. Irish blogging isn’t dead, but it’s not exactly world class either.

*If You Have Enjoyed This Blog Post, We At A Trivial Blog For Serious People Would Like To Take This Opportunity To Remind You That Nominations For The Irish Blog Awards Are Open Until The 5th of Feb. Should You Know Of Any Irish Blogs or Blogs Based In Ireland You Think Deserve A Nomination, The URL Of The Blog Is And The Contact Email Is We Thank You For Your Attention On This Matter And Promise Not To Mention It Again. Until Next Year.*
Irish Blog Award Nominations


Anonymous said...
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sarah said...

theooooo darlin , i THINK i nominated you... but i am not sure if it went through, is there any way you can tell? if it didnt i can do it again. but i dont want to do it again and then they think that i am your mom using a psuedonym to nominate you a thousand times

Theo said...

Saaaaaaarrrrrraaaaaahhhhhh.... don't ask me chucks. I'm impressed and grateful you nominated me though. I was going to nominate me, but failed to do so due to a combination of lazyness, busyness and a norovirus.
Thanks though!