Reason to be miserable

Thanks to SkyI can’t make my mind up about the media attention drawn by Labour MP, and junior transport minister Tom Harris, for comments on his blog. Or more accurately, by the reproduction of those comments on the front of the Daily Mail.
On the one hand, I’m quite pleased that the word ‘blog’ barely comes into it. The Mail story doesn’t use the b-word until its final few paragraphs. Blogging is a fact of life, unremarkable in itself. That’s a good thing.
But the Mail piece misses the very point about it being on a blog. The rules of engagement explicitly allow for the personal and provocative. Stirring up (hopefully reasonable) argument is precisely the point. And in fact, if you look at the comments on the item in question, that’s precisely what he did.
Perhaps the most positive aspect of the story is the fact that the debate is continuing on Harris’s blog – with numerous people now writing ‘I heard you on the TV/radio this morning, came to check out exactly what you’d said, and here’s what I think…’
Now let’s be realistic: it’s the Mail. They have an editorial line, based primarily around ‘hell’ and ‘handcart’, and this story has been squeezed forcibly into it. They do quote the caveats from Harris’s original piece, but only having discarded them initially. They make no attempt to tackle Harris’s underlying point about long-term improvement vs short-term adversity. They ignore some of his incontrovertible points. Oh, and their round-up of a ‘day of desperate economic news’ fails to mention the rather more upbeat news on retail sales.
As a side note: it was announced yesterday that the Mail’s site is now the most visited among the UK newspapers’ web presences. But only 27.2% of its users were actually in the UK – ‘the lowest share of domestic audience of any of the national newspaper websites that publish ABCe figures.’ If the Mail readers care so much about the UK, why don’t they come and live here?

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