Here begins a cautionary tale about the man who went on Twitter to speak up for journalism.
An alarming number of journalists are losing work. Jobs are going at the BBC, the Guardian Media Group, Newsquest, and at Reach, owner of the Daily Mirror and many regionals, including the Manchester Evening News.
Against this gloomy background, Lewis Goodall, policy editor at BBC2’s Newsnight, used Twitter to criticise “all of those commenting with glee about those in media organisations losing their jobs,” adding: “Whether you approve of their organisations or not, these are people with families whose lives are being turned upside down. Maybe keep your bile to yourself, just for one day.”
I can report that they did not but instead tipped a putrid pint over my bald head, after roundly abusing Goodall.
Here is what I added to Goodall’s tweet…
“As a journalist and lecturer who is soon losing both roles, I agree. Most of my working life has been in regional newspapers, helping to inform and entertain those who share my city. This Trumpian insistence on the rottenness of journalism leads nowhere good.”
Rarely have I encountered such hostility. My reply received a ridiculous amount of attention and at the time of writing, has apparently been seen on Twitter nearly 14,000 times, while 816 people are marked as having interacted with the tweet.
‘Interacted’ is short-hand for calling me an idiot, saying that I don’t know how to write, telling me that, like all journalists, I am rotten to the core and produce left-wing political propaganda, as evidenced by one tweet and nothing else.
Further, I deserve to be losing these jobs as there is no market for what I do (based on no knowledge and one tweet). On a more cheerful note, 84 kind souls liked my tweet, some adding worthwhile thoughts.
One member of the braying throng read a few of my blogs and concluded that I can’t write. I’ve been writing for a long time; sometimes I write well and sometimes I write less well; it’s what happens to people who write many words.
The same critic added: “A worthwhile journalism lecturer (oxymoronic maybe) would tell his students to swim against the tide.” Ahem, how do you know I don’t do that? Anyway, my Twitter account has a picture of me and my name; yours has a jokey pseudonym and no name or photograph, so it’s hard to know who you are.
At a time when journalists are tumbling, we have a government seemingly controlled by Dominic Cummings, a man intent on overturning many aspects of the state, including the BBC if he gets his way. Robust journalism has never been more essential; robust journalism is more important than whether you dislike a certain columnist (or blogger down on his luck).
But, hey. Haters left and right won’t see it that way. Funnily enough, much of my journalism involves the writing of softer features, carefully thought out profiles and interviews that remain respectful of the subject. But, hey.
I regret that tweet in a way, as my phone went hot in my hand as I scrolled through the abuse. It gave me a Twitter headache and a rough night’s sleep.
Perhaps I also regret writing “Trumpian” as that seems to have been the trigger. Then again, it is surely relevant that one of the most powerful men in the world has spent four years telling everyone journalists are scum, pushers of fake news and members of the lamestream media (often because they just asked him an awkward question).
To conclude, I’d like to wish well to all those journalists losing their jobs. They won’t be the high-profile columnists that annoy the press-haters; they’ll be hard-working editors or producers or news reporters or photographers (that’s if any remain). They will be ordinary good people who deserve better. Good luck to every one of them.
I just checked and the hateful scroll continues, slowly now. How prominent Twitter people endure this bitter tirade is a mystery. Perhaps I’ll be sensible next time and keep my head down. Then again…