The Grey Cardigan 28.09.06

THE ELECTRONIC revolution continues apace with The Brute, the Evening Beast's foul-mouthed deputy editor, launching a blog to encourage our readers to contribute to the great citizen journalism movement.

There are a number of initial problems, not least the fact that nine out of 10 contributions turn out to be full-blooded assaults on The Brute himself, penned by anonymous and resentful journalists who have suffered at his tongue. The term "institutional bullying" figures large, as do a number of swearwords which sadly make the contributions unpublishable.

Special spam filtering software is quickly installed, the kind that rendered the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph beyond electronic contact for fully three months and led to the Cockermouth Herald having to resort to carrier pigeons to get its crosswords through from the PA.

Slowly, inexorably, the readers make contact. The single issue pressure groups, the evangelical Christians, the local government spokesweasels… all are represented, but of the average punter — well, have you actually read the unedited contributions to your letters page?

Because that's what "citizen journalism" is: the uneducated, the illiterate, the downright malevolent; all given free reign to see their biased bile published in pixels courtesy of the Evening Beast.

We're giving credibility to cretins, with none of the checks and balances that much-maligned journalists and subs provide. It's a fucking free-for-all, and no-one seems to care.

Perhaps a serious legal action will concentrate the corporate mind.

A good starting point for the trough-snuffling lawyers would be the posting we carried yesterday alleging serious financial misconduct — bereft of any evidence whatsoever — on the part of a senior county councillor. Doubles all round, I would have thought.

AS SOON as my comments of last week regarding the utter unsuitability of most newspaper hacks to record video reports staggered onto the streets, the inbox pinged with a precious piece of digital film featuring outtakes of abortive attempts made by the staff of a middling daily newspaper.

You have to see this stuff to believe it. Ineptitude isn't a big enough word. Take after take is marred by stuttering, giggling and some quite breathtaking outbursts of swearing. Even when the poor sods manage to string together a coherent sentence of monotone mumbling, an errant cleaner wanders through the shot.

Frankly, they're rubbish. The point is, they know they're rubbish; that's why they sent me the video. After decades of slagging off the pitiful presentation values of local news bulletins, I am now prepared to accept the inevitable. They might be shite, but they're nowhere near as shite as we newspaper chappies.

ONE OF my correspondents writes to enquire as to the whereabouts of Daily Mail feature writer Tanya Gold. A few months back she was ubiquitous: now she appears to have disappeared without trace, and a lady called Jane Fryer was summoned to do Saturday's ‘Isn't Kazakhstan Awful' piece that was once the unassailable province of our Tanya.

A quick internet search turns up a typically knockabout piece about Sven and Nancy's house from 1 August, but, after that, nothing. It's a mystery. And as my wonderfully bitchy friend says, it can't be easy to go into hiding when you've got size 13 feet.

Perhaps now might be the right time to bring her back. With Jane Eyre featuring on primetime BBC on Sunday evenings, surely Tanya could reprise her March 2005 Guardian article that labelled Charlotte Brontë "a filthy, frustrated, sex-obsessed genius" and which was entitled "Reader, I shagged him."

OUR "Doesn't Anyone Proof Read Their Fucking Pages Anymore?" feature kicks off with an example from Monday's Guardian sports section, where the otherwise excellent Martin Kelner has a lazy dig at the alleged racism of former football manager Ron Atkinson precisely 3.2 cm above a panel starring West Brom's ground-breaking trio of black players from the 1978-79 season (Batson, Cunningham and Regis), who were championed by alleged racist and former football manager… err, Ron Atkinson. Own goal, chaps.

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