Some experiences are habit-forming, but not entirely enjoyable. The urge to repeat them occurs due to some Pavlovian desire for regularity, to give life a regular metre. So it is with reading the nightly column in the Express & Star by Peter Rhodes; I do it every day, although the experience is not unlike repeatedly hitting myself over the head with a housebrick; the enjoyment generally comes when the activity ceases. Peter can occasionally demonstrate a killer wit and sharp incision, but mainly recycles pre-owned opinions and email lore from t’internet, the middlebrow tabloids or his local boozer. I noted with some amusement this evening that the redoubtable Mr. Rhodes chose to have a pop at us pale imitators out on the inter-webs who clearly cannot be relied upon to produce journalism with integrity, social concern or credibility.
I would respectfully suggest that Peter take a peek over at the likes of mySociety.org where he will find citizen journalists (without the snide quotes, if you please) and other interested parties engaged in all manner of public spirited stuff, which will undoubtedly surface later in hundreds of blogs, campaign sites and news aggregators that make up the modern free press in this country. Just like the old press Mr. Rhodes so unfortunately represents, there are a good deal of nutters, loons and charlatans, but also no shortage of principled, high-quality writers and commentators who are doing stirling work and deserve to be heard.
It’s quite unfortunate to see once again a rather unseemly dig at new media from a local institution that’s not above raiding and monitoring the ‘new generation’ for easy or topical copy. I find the fact that the Express & Star has recently featured articles about FixMyStreet (a mySociety project), local councillors on Twitter, Twitter for Oldies as well as regurgitating news often broken first on blogs quite ironic; for someone who so disrespects the trend towards DIY he seems to be working for the wrong newspaper.
I think that if Peter Rhodes were to delve deeper into the matter then he might be surprised to find that the papers he defends are not the beacons of probity that he would have us believe. Rather, the local rags and the printed news in general are going bust in droves because the new media he so derides has outed them as the flabby, complacent, comfy bastions of poor research, lazy copy and me-too opinion that they actually are.
Anyway, Peter, isn’t it about time you recycled those old exam howlers again? I love them more and more every time I read them. Same time tomorrow? It’s a deal!