21 March 2013

Private Eye, Guido Fawkes and blogging

I have read Private Eye off and on for most of its existence. So perhaps it’s not surprising that criticism of the Eye from Guido Fawkes’ “blog of plots, rumours and conspiracies”, Order-Order, has seemed to me a bit like the sort of obstreperousness to be expected from a new-kid-on-the-block. In particular, Guido has repeatedly chided the Eye for being behind with the news, playing to the advantage that his website-based product has over a fortnightly magazine. Furthermore, the Eye seems to see the internet primarily as a means of selling merchandise and subscriptions.

But the juxtaposition of two stories (above) on page 5 of the new Private Eye (Issue No. 1336, 22 March 2013) suggests that it needs to try a bit harder sometimes. I can understand why Ian Hislop, Private Eye’s editor, is exercised about the post-Leveson arrangements for press regulation. But Grant’s tweet was about a rumour that he had heard. Is the Eye’s point that because rumours can’t be fact-checked, none should never be reported? If so, it seems like an oblique way of criticising a blog of rumours. The Eye argument went uneasily with the other story just 8cm away on the same page. On the other hand, the Eye’s Huhn-Pryce coverage on pages 5 and 7 of the same issue are worth the £1.50 alone and far better than a lot of the stuff on Order-Order.

By the way, as far as press regulation is concerned, the current New Statesman editorial contains this warning:
The definition of “publisher” covered by the new regulator was set out as not just either a newspaper or a political and cultural magazine, such as the New Statesman, but also “a website containing news-related material”. This threatened to drag in personal blogs and social media accounts; in effect, it would try to “regulate the internet”, a completely impossible task, and one not covered by Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry or recommendations. Downing Street once again tried to brief that this was not the case but failed to explain exactly what was meant by “news-related material”. The danger is that bloggers will now find themselves subject to “exemplary damages”, imposed by a regulator that they were never originally supposed to join.
Not surprisingly, Guido Fawkes, despite Order-Order apparently being Ireland-based and with its servers in California, is watching this development closely and supports the Blog-off campaign. Whether I will be able to risk continuing with this little blog, given that its interest in current UK politics is by definition news-related, remains to be seen. Come to that, are my jejune, but possibly irritating to some, comments on current art exhibitions news-related?


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