Reporters, Journalists and Mickey’s Mammy

On Slugger O’Toole, Mick Fealty references a piece by Nuala McKeever in the Belfast Telegraph. I think it is now nine weeks since I actually bought a newspaper. Not buying one is as habit forming as buying one. The real challenge to my Leveson inspired boycott will be when I am on a bus or train journey. Nothing would ever induce me to buy the Belfast Telegraph anyway.

But here’s a thing. Wikipedia have fairly extensive articles on the backgrounds of a lot of journos..I literally hundreds at the BBC. Take a look at John Simpson, Jeremy Bowen, Huw Edwards….literally hundreds. Typiically grammar school or minor public school boys and girls and not untypically Oxford and Cambridge. Not untypically History.

While I deplore elitism…the BBC apologists would say this is the right balance of classical education and superior gravitas which maketh the BBC man…or woman. I am not sure if the Belfast Metro College still runs its (pretty expensive) journalism class….but a year learning libel laws and of month long work experience with a provincial newspaper plus a trip to Stormont Thor a Q &A session with Mark Devenport is play be not as influential.

As you may have gathered I know rather more about the Metro Class than is strictly necessary.

Thirty years ago, I used to enjoy buying the Guardian and Irish Times. I think Ian Aiken, Hugo Young and Conor O’Clery confirmed my view of the world….in a way that George Monbiot, Timothy Garton Ash and Miriam Lord can no longer do. Besides my world view is settled.

I don’t know how Journalism on broadsheets works anymore. Do they go from Oxford straight to the Guardian or do they have year spend ten years covering village fetes in Somerset and court cases in Rotherham. And why are they all so young? Like that young fella Jones who is always on Question Time.

I totally understand reporters like Mark Simpson reporting as BBC Ireland Correspondent and Fiona Trott, BBC North of England Correspondent. In the food chain, they are Reporters who report on the latest Belfast riot or the latest missing child in Lancashire. And I gender stand that Middle East BBC man Jeremy Bowen and Channel 4s Michael Crick are journalists. They analyse and comment in a way that reporters don’t.

Reporters…Journalists and that brings me to Mickey’ s Mammy…..Nuala McKeever.Who exactly is she and why does she have a column in the Belfast Telegraph? I declare a slight interest. She used to live quite near a friend in West Belfast. She went to QUB…studied French and got a job as a BBC researcher and drifted into the Hole in the Wall Gang. She became famous for two characters…a West Belfast housewife with an errant son “Mickey” and the Cultra letsgetalongerist, Mrs AllTooNice.

Leaving the Hole In The Wall Gang….she had a chat show on UTV but frankly she disappeared off the radar. I don’t wish to be unkind but her career seemed to have petered out. About three years ago, I saw her present a Platform for Change event.She is signatory to PFC and is now real-life LetsGetAlongerist.

Of course many rank and file citizens sign up to Platform for Change. They are not all pretentious networkersin the Metro-Textual world off South East Belfast.Nuala McKeever is an interesting and intelligent woman but are her thoughts more relevant than yours or mine. What entitles her to a Belfast Telegraph platform.Is she a professional journalist. Well of course…I am also one…did I tell you that I earned £17 after currency conversion….so obviously I am not jealous…much.

But why exactly does Ms McKeever have a Belfast Telegraph column? Does she have more insight, expertise or gravitas than say the top ten per cent of Norn Iron bloggers? Which I think defines the non existent difference between Blogging and Journalism A Blogger is at heart a frustrated Journalist who can’t catch a break.And A Journalist is a Blogger who got lucky.

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14 Responses to Reporters, Journalists and Mickey’s Mammy

  1. bangordub says:

    C’mon Mr Fitz, it seems a bit unfair to have a go at an individual hack. I have huge problems for instance with a west Belfast indo journalist, Eilish O’Hanlon, but I do understand why she is so bitter. Particularly given the huge contribution of her sister.

    • Oh I wouldn’t say that I am having a go at Nuala McKeever so much as the system itself…and indeed I am having a go at my own hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with me that couldn’t be fixed by getting a job£20,000 a year with a newspaper..or an internship at say £30,000 a year with my old friends at Stratagem. They would love to have me.
      I completely understand….reporters.
      I completely understand that we need journalists, who have a degree of expertise. As I type this at 6.45pm, Jim Fitzpatrick an expert on Finance is interviewing Stephen Rooney, a music journalist on BBC.
      But a newspaper columnist is NOT a hack.
      A columnist is not always a political hack but rather a person employed to comment on a range of issues.
      Of course they DO have a market value, dependent upon their popularity as much as any expertise. Take Frankie Boyle at The Sun. he is employed to be controversial and provocatively funny. But he owes his Sun employment to his Comedy career not any journalistic expertise.
      Of course it could be argued and has been argued that we are all journalists. we write a journal. it is read. at the top of the tree, there are some pretty good bloggers.
      Is Nuala McKeever any more expert than….er me.
      is Newton Emerson any more expert than….er you?

      I say that….a lot of it is down to LUCK. And I’d argue that real TRAINED Journalists (and I’m not suggesting that McKeever and Emerson are untrained) deserve preferential treatment in terms of employment than say Frankie Boyle.

  2. Mc Keever’s comments have a value one step above Debbie form Colchester, 44, 38, 32 in page 3 of the Sun. That said, it’s still three leagues above Pete Baker’s

    • Actually that’s a good point. The good thing/bad thing about TInternet is that it equalises all opinions. We all have equal validity….but what exactly makes some opinions so valuable that they earn cash.
      More importantly why is nobody paying me for my interesting opinions?

      • factual says:

        Does your name on the front add sales? You are unknown. Have you held a notable interesting job that gives you more insight?

        Usually those people who are columnists have done something, or written a book. That makes people want to hear their views.

        Owen Jones who you mentioned did write a book “Chavs” and is simply a great writer. He is good to read.

        Its not all about luck because luck alone doesn’t make you interesting to read.

      • And Katie Price writes great books?
        To sum up….people have trained as Journalists. I like to tease the profession but it is actually a skill and needed.
        Journalists are being sacked and others working with awful conditions. …for example low paid shift work.
        What you are effectively saying is that a minor celeb writing a piece for a newspaper adds sales and subsidises the employment of trained journalists. what I am saying is that minor celebs can be articulate and intelligent but anointing them as opinion makers/formers merely feeds their ego and takes jobs from more worthy people…journalists.
        Clearly I am an individual….a complete NOBODY? Indeed that is the glory of blogging….this Blog is effectively the diary of a nobody….a complete no-mark. Why would anybody, including yourself want to read my insane rumblings?
        To answer my own question, you must consider this blog occasionally interesting. And for my own part I am unpaid…doing it for fun….and can rest easy that I at least have the same right to do this as any minor celebrity.
        After all Tinternet gives us the right to call ourselves CITIZEN JOURNALISTS but unfortunately makes no judgement as to quality.
        The difference is that a minor celeb can actually use that minor celebrity to have a platform which may or may not be justified by their talents.
        For my own part, I can rest easy that the success of this blog is solely the quality or otherwise of the things wot I write.
        Personally as a socialist, I am against privilege and access to the levers of power based on anything other than merit. I am for example opposed to the House of”lords”.
        You yourself have often claimed that you would want an egalitarian society and claim to be a socialist. Yet you support the notion of a minor celeb having influence in the media. Not a consistent approach.

  3. For some strange reason, my partner gets the Belfast Telegraph on a Saturday and it is more like Heat or, for older posters, Titbits. There’s some blonde dolly bird who seems to write every other article and a pile of other fluff.

    We then have the ever growing trade of the contrarian such as the lunatic Peter Hitchens and the awful Jeremy bloke from the car programme. Another wing is the clearly in-crowd such as Camilla Long or AA GILL who are so fond of fitting trivia about theselves in to articles as often as they can.

    The real journalists? Well, many of the, are now to be found in syndicated columns.

    • If I remembr correctly Slugger had a a big day out in Nicva at Duncairn Gardens Dec 2010…and I think one of the panelists was a Belfast Telegraph journo. apparently a lot of celeb/TV stuff is generated by agencies. the evening paper in Southampton or Wolvermpton will be carrying the same stuff.
      Private Eye…Always ahead of its time….has the Glendale Slag.column. Contrarian rubbish.
      But why exactly are the opinions of Deccan Aikenhead, Fiona Phillips, Mad Mel Phillips, Jane Moore and Caitlin Moran interesting IN EVERY SUBJECT.
      I get that Jeremy Clarkson knows a bit about cars…but how did his opinion on EVERYTHING get to be important.
      There is an irony here. I am not an expert on EVERYTHING. In fact I know NOTHING about ANYTHING. Except 18th century cavalry tactics….of course.

      • Looks like the fat shock jock is under pressure with a loyalist protest outside the studio tonight. Chris Donnelly reported that Jamie Bryon got a big clap when he entered the studio.

        In fairness to Nolan, like Sunday World, he does do more than the supposedly more legitimate, apparently superior, journalists.

        Must mention one honourable exception, excellent Fionnuala O’ Connor but she seems semi retired these days.

      • Ah Nolan loves the controversy. Somewhere between Alan Partridge and Jeremy Kyle….
        The subject matter was well trailed.
        More about Ratings than Content.

  4. bangordub says:

    Point of order. Mr Fitz, your knowledge of 18th century cavalry tactics is, of course, open to challenge. I, for one, am doubtful as to whether Eylau actually changed tactics or, in fact, informed 20th century armoured battle strategies

    • On a point of order Mr Dub that’s actually a 19th century battle and the Russian/Prussian cannon were far superior to anything even 50 years before.
      Much was actually fought at night and that and amass cavalry charge (almost from the Middle Ages) makes it a bit untypical of the time.

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