Sean Adams, top banana at the splendid Drowned in Sound music site, yesterday tweeted thus:
Persnickety perfectionist comment posters unite! Donate to a fund for full-time sub-editors for websites you’re charged nothing to read...
Moreover, as budgets at mainstream media outlets get tighter, while at the same time the sheer volume of content required increases, the need for such quality control become more transparently obvious. Every few days, it seems, a local newspaper somewhere outsources its sub-editing function, and the result is never an improvement (except, possibly, on the balance sheet). And then there are those established papers that have jumped on the blogwagon, but don’t feel the need to extend the benefits of an editorial once-over to those who huff and puff under their brand identity. I do find it amusing that Toby Young, who has become a standard bearer for the Free Schools movement, still makes egregious grammatical errors on his Telegraph blog, which are only eradicated after readers (the digital ghostbabies of Simon Heffer, perhaps?) have pointed them out.
But at the same time, that shouldn’t be a permanent get-out clause for writers who don’t have big money behind them. Andrew Keen and his like sneer at bloggers and other one-person bands because they’re not Proper Journalists, even when they’re not trying to be Proper Journalists (which is, of course, different from Good Writers, but that’s another thing). However, that doesn’t mean that bloggers don’t have a duty to use language accurately and appropriately, and even more importantly, to get their facts right, and to respond graciously if someone points out a mistake. To shrug and say, “What do you expect? It’s only a blog,” is to do the haters’ work for them, and reinforces an us-and-them scenario in online media which should have been redundant five years ago. (And incidentally, I know that’s not what Sean Adams was doing. He was, after all, decent enough to let me write a piece for him a while back.)
OK, you persnickety perfectionist comment posters, tell me what I’ve done wrong.