Irony, Thy Name Is… Me?

I am your archetypal daydreamer. I mostly wander around with my head in the clouds carelessly minding my own bidness until something provokes enough thought that I feel like I have to come down for a minute to say something about it. Well recently I read an article that roused me from my mental hibernation. It was called ‘The Voice of The People’. It was in Sundays’ ‘Life’ magazine with the Independent and was written by a guy called Declan Lynch.

The subheading read: “There’s a reason why everyone doesn’t have a voice and a reason why bloggers are just bloggers.”

Now, usually I’m not one to get all antsy over something between the two covers of a magazine that comes free with the Sunday paper but this particular scribe implicated me. He implicated and he criticized me and any other person out there who has the audacity to flaunt freedom of expression in the form of… A blog!

The article wasn’t directly about blogging really. It was about how we have become a nation of uncertain nitwits who call for a referendum at the first hint of a political decision needing to be made. That’s all fair enough but Declan pointed the finger. A bold enough move when you’re pointing it at the majority.

Basically, Mr. Lynch griped sarcastically for a few hundred words about how blogging has become so popular in recent years and how it’s killing “real journalism”. He reckons that because anyone can write a blog, the integrity of the journalistic vocation is, essentially, being shit on by every Tom, Dick and Harry with a laptop and a basic ability to type/form an opinion.

The first conclusion to spring to my mind upon reading the piece was that there was no way in hell that the writer was below the age of 40. You know that TV show that used to be on BBC called ‘Grumpy Old Men’ where people like Bob Geldof , Jeremy Clarkson, Rory McGrath and the like just sat there and grumbled about things that they didn’t understand? That’s what it put me in mind of. It was like listening to an old man giving out about how it’s far from blogging he was raised and things, of course, were better when he was a buck. And BINGO, further research tells me that Declan Lynch was born in 1961.

In Ireland, we’re terrified of change. Kind of the point of Mr. Lynch’s story in the first place. So it’s hypocritical enough to see the article pan out as the words of a middle-aged man who appears petrified that his job might be at risk to some, in his own mocking words, “desperado” with a blog.

The thing is, in one respect, I can appreciate where he’s coming from. I can see why he feels that his professional toes are being stepped on by the simplicity and freedom that the 21st century and the internet culture provide. There is, no question, an abundance of personal blogs out there covering just about every topic you can think of and laymen with too much time on their hands are behind a vast majority of them.

In another respect, however, I feel that Mr. Lynch is an intolerant old stick-in-the-mud who has a dislike for modernism and the fact that it is now possible for everyone to have a voice regardless of whether they’re endorsed by a publication or not.

I have a degree in Journalism from Dublin City University. I spent three years earning it. About a year and a half into my studies I came to the realisation that, while I loved to write, I had very little interest in resigning myself to a life limited by word counts, deadlines, uninteresting subject matter and the brutality of editors. The reality of the profession was revealed to be a million miles from the idealistic reason I got into it in the first place. Where I wanted journalism to be a craft; something you could be creative with, an outlet for originality and flair, I was thumped in the face with a reality of ruthlessness, confinement and censorship. I finished my studies, graduated with the rest of my class and, while most of my peers ventured off into the cut-throat world of professional journalism, I ventured into the unexpected but wholly more gratifying terrain of childcare, where I today remain.

Point being? That not everyone who writes a blog is an uneducated imbecile who doesn’t deserve a voice, as Mr. Lynch not so discreetly implies. I take exception to the notion that just because a person chooses to write on their own terms it makes them less of a writer than someone who gets paid to roll out mundane “inverted pyramid” style news articles for a broadsheet paper. While a payroll journalist gets the freedom to write about whatever the editor decides, the blogger utilises initiative and crafts something. The blogger has the creative independence that the paid reporter can only hope to someday earn professionally and the blogger can, if he plays his cards right, generate as much attention for their work as any byline can for theirs.

The fact is that, as much as old school “I used to have to walk a mile in the snow just to get clean drinking water” grouches like Mr. Lynch are loathe to tolerate it, the internet is the future of communication. Matter fact, it’s not even the future. It’s the present. This month, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that, after 244 years in print, it would now only be available online. I mean, I love books (I refuse to ever have a Kindle, for example) but if that’s not one of the final nails in the coffin of the printed word, I don’t know what is. Also, here’s a link to an article listing all the major news stories that were broken on twitter (by the layman) before anywhere else: http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/10-news-stories-that-broke-on-twitter-first-719532

In his tirade, Mr. Lynch alleges that “being good is not the point anymore.” Well, I respectfully disagree with that principle. Being “good” remains an essential component in any piece of journalism whether it comes in the form of an article, a column, a blog or even a tweet. Regardless of the encompassing accessibility of blogging to anyone with a notion to be heard in some way, good writers remain; There are people out there who are perceptive, creative, witty, outspoken and ingenious. They write, undiscovered and unappreciated. But doing it for one common reason: A love of writing.

And what’s wrong with that Declan Lynch?

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