Some journalists have trouble understanding social media: while their colleagues are using the likes of Twitter and Facebook as free sources for their articles, others are worried about the ability of others to take part in the conversation, rather than the old days when hacks got published and never got any feedback except through the letters pages of their paper. One such is Liz Jones.
What do you think of it so far?
“If trolls are such a joy, why do I wake up scared every day?” she muses, baffled by the ability of Julie Burchill to shrug off the torrent of abuse and effectively feed off it to make herself stronger (Zelo Street regulars will have noticed two examples of the genre at right). Ms Burchill is right: her platform at the Spectator, or in the print media, is far more powerful than your average Twitter or Facebook troll.
That thought, though, is not allowed to enter: “At a New Year’s Eve party, I couldn’t understand why a group of friends were asking if I was OK, how awful it must have been ... It turned out that one of their group had posted on Mumsnet, using a pseudonym, that she had seen me taking cocaine at a Bonfire Night party ... Why was someone allowed to lie anonymously about me, with no recourse?”
There is not the slightest hint of irony here: Liz Jones has made her name dispensing catty remarks and making enough unpleasant assertions against others over the years that, as she readily admits, three of them successfully sued her. Many more have decided that they can get along without her name in their contacts book, and she has been barred from some fashion venues.
She says of her current partner “an online thread started attacking him for being dirty, and therefore not fit to sell cakes and bread, which is his business”, then tells “I’d written about how he should be groomed at Trumper’s of St James’s, the Royal barbers”, yet fails to see how she is the one that started that hare running. You don’t want that crap, don’t spray personal details and opinions around.
Those who practice “confessional journalism” – and Ms Jones is one of the best-known exponents of the genre – should not be surprised when they suffer blowback, especially when she has been so unpleasant and insensitive to others. And she needs to remember all those on the receiving end of her abuse who have not had the means to take her to the cleaners.
“I have no choice about being libelled by posts on hers and other sites; nor, it seems, does any poor sod associated with me” wails Liz Jones, using the false equivalence: “[you] can avoid being upset by things I write about the world by not buying this newspaper”. She hadn’t read the allegation of cocaine sniffing, but found out soon enough. And the Mail On Sunday counts its readers in millions.
Liz Jones is the most appalling hypocrite. So she’s at the right newspaper.