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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Friday October 20 2006

I’d be slightly less contemptuous of the mainstream media and of their protestations of moral superiority over mere bloggers if I didn’t regularly come across things like this (see second paragraph):

… I’ve always been very careful about pronouns. Then I discovered that for the previous six months some malicious Fleet Street sub-editor at the Daily Telegraph, in my more contemptuously hectoring surveys of the London scene, had been taking out every dismissive “you British” and replacing it with “we.”

I still mutter to myself with rage when I think about the last mainstream media article I wrote, for the Sunday Times over four years ago now, which I had to fisk in Samizdata to correct all the editorial derangements.

The worst offenders are the headline writers, who regularly put headlines on top of stories which alone - never mind the actual truth - make nonsense of the drivel stuck on top of them.  And then ignorant people blame the writer for the stupid “title”, over which he had no control and would vehemently have objected to.

I actually don’t think that that DT sub-editor was being malicious.  That would suggest some kind of individual animus against Steyn, by a person who was thinking for himself.  No, this tosser just thought he was doing his job, and as far as all those around and above him were concerned, he was.  In this case, he just thought it would read better if he changed it to something else, and that it would be more, I don’t know, dignified, less abusively tabloid if he changed “you British” into “we”.

In other words, there is, in the mainstream media and most particularly among mainstream media editors and sub-editors, not just the occasional regrettable lapse into falsification – there is a culture of falsification, in among other more admirable things like a culture of correcting spelling mistakes.

In the unlikely event that one of these creatures were to read this and to feel the urge to respond, he would, I believe, respond in three ways simultaneously.  In no particular order, he would deny it, he would try to justify it, and he would assert his right to do the unjustifiable.  We don’t do it, we only do it because ... , and anyway we’re entitled!  Parents of small children will be familiar with this argumentative method.

We never do it and when we do it’s because you bloody writers don’t know how to write interesting stories!  We give the public what they want!  You fuckers would nuance your damn stories up your arses, if it wasn’t for us.  We nail what’s exciting in the thing, and if the thing itself isn’t exciting, we make it exciting!  Hurrah for us!  Anyway, don’t you believe in the freedom of the press?

See also this earlier posting here, which quotes Guido saying why he doesn’t do press interviews any more - “You will be edited to fit the narrative” – and also this one, about a particularly idiotic headline I spotted last June.

I do believe in the freedom of the press, to falsify their articles and to publish arsehole headlines on top of them, and to generally shovel forth whatever rubbish they want to shovel forth.  And I believe in my freedom to call the rubbish that results rubbish.

My argumentative method, on the other hand, is to invent the argument of my imaginary opponent, and then disagree.  I believe Germaine Greer got a bit of a roasting for doing this recently.  Link anyone?

UPDATE Friday midday: Another mainstream media error.