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So here’s the plan.

Patreon subscribers will now get the following perks.

  1. Patreon subscribers will get to suggest topics for new Youtube videos and those ideas will be given priority over other topics. Simply use the contact messaging system there to submit ideas.
  2. Patreon subscribers will, monthly, get access to a discount code for one of my existing products, typically allowing them to purchase it at half price. At a buck a month, that should add up fairly quickly to value for money!
  3. Patreon subscribers will be able to suggest other things they’d like access to as perks by messaging in private.

I have removed individual product pages from Facebook and, in their place there are now three pages.

I shall try and make sure I provide updates at least once a month, but social media wrangling on a serious scale does take time away from working.

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DennettQuote

It has been a weird, difficult year. So was 2014, but 2015 has been a full year of many of the same issues and problems and has been a steep learning curve for an old dog who hit forty this year. Some things have changed, some things have to change and on the broader stage I finally see some positive change.

Hitting 40 wasn’t too much of a concern, weirdly. It was mostly a non-event, though a stark realisation of age has certainly exacerbated other problems, 40 itself doesn’t mean much to me, just like 16, 18, 21 and 30 didn’t really.

***

Depression (and related anxiety) has dogged another year and although I am a lot better than I was (off the dried frog pills and coping) it continues to have a savage impact on my ability to work. I had hoped that signing on with Chronicle City would enable me to step back and take more of a project management role but problems there – outside anyone’s control – have stalled that and forced me to go back to Postmortem to keep that going and to keep money coming in.

***

The ongoing difficulties with getting the Gor RPG to market have not helped matters either. The backers have been incredibly patient – thankfully – and it is only the art that is still being waited on, but its impossible to tell at this point when the last parts will come in and all I can tell anyone is that there’s good reason for the delay. Still, it’s a lot of pressure and a lot of money is tied up waiting for the printing and posting. That also severely limits my ability to commit to new projects and to work.

Despite all this, I did manage to release…

Which when you look back at it, isn’t so bad. It’s about a project a month.

***

I also self-published my first full length novel, Old, Fat Punks, which was a bit of a waste but agents and publishers weren’t biting and it was annoying the piss out of me having it just sat around. Fortunately the people who have read it seem to both ‘get it’, and love it. That may not pay the bills, but its artistically satisfying. I have two more full length book ideas in a position to write this year, but it’s hard to justify when there’s so little money in it, even compared to what you’d think would be a profitless niche – roleplaying games.

***

Honestly, it comes hard to write or create anything these days. Something that will doubtless give my tireless critics cause to celebrate and it is, indeed, because of them that it is difficult. The urge to self-censor in order to avoid yet another shitstorm is strong, to the point of creative paralysis often. Even if the conclusion is ‘fuck you’ and the urge is to take them ‘from hell’s heart I stab at thee’ approach to ‘criticism’, it is extremely wearing both to have the Sword of Twittercles hanging over your head, and to endure the thrashings of the hateful ‘SJW’ mob whenever you do anything.

This is different to trolling, though trolling comes with it too. Trolls lose interest over time, while some of these people are persistent enough to keep going for years and years. With that comes a volume of unfair and inaccurate material online which turns up when people search for you, which then turns up when new people look into your projects. How can you fix it? I don’t know that you can.

I don’t concur with people like Mike Cernovitch or Vox Day on… pretty much anything, other than their commitments to free speech, yet I get treated – on a smaller scale – with the same kind of scorn normally directed towards them. Both have written books on their approaches to the problem of social shaming but what they amount to is that they don’t give a shit.

I don’t have that luxury. Vox and Mike aren’t my kindred spirits when it comes to this because I do strive to be a good person and so end up nonplussed and genuinely hurt by being portrayed as some sort of avatar of evil, as this misogynist, racist horrorshow they’ve conjured. It bothers me because despite their protestations, I am not. It should be sufficient to know who and what I am and am not, but reputation matters and it takes a lot more effort to remove a stain than to make one – it’s a sort of Gish Gallop of slander.

Jon Ronson’s book and TED talk on this issue is perhaps more my speed. He shares my hand-wringing incredulity that people who are ostensibly on our side are acting so appallingly, being so intolerant and resorting so such tactics. That they are throwing basic liberal values under the bus towards some nebulous and opaque end, so unclear concept of the ‘greater good’ that tramples on individual liberties.

***

It’s also a time of hope, at least on the broader stage, as we seem to have reached the peak of this kind of stupidity that society as a whole is willing to tolerate. There are signs of hope from Spiked and FIRE to Ronson, Dave Ruben, Bill Maher and Sam Harris. ‘SJWs’ have burned their allies with a fanatical commitment to an orthodoxy most people – fortunately – don’t share. We also have language to describe things now, we are cultural libertarians, the censorious, authoritarian voices calling themselves liberal are the ‘regressive left’ (Maajid Nawaz).

The fuss on university campuses is a laughing stock and appears to be provoking a backlash, which may reinforce intellectual and free-speech spaces on and beyond campuses, rolling back the Tumblrisation of public discourse.

More and more it’s the people whose side I supposedly should be on (as a far-left anarchist) who are intolerably dickweasels, while the people whose political, economic and social views I am opposed to, who are polite, engaging and willing to talk. I’m far more likely to have a productive discussion or cooperation with a conservative libertarian or even an Objectivist, than I am a self-styled progressive, even though I would agree with the latter on so much more and the former only on one thing.

I don’t know what tactic to use to cope and to feel free again. It’s not so simple as trolling, which can simply be discounted, I don’t have the self-confidence to ignore it or self-assert though it, but I have to find a way to cope. There’s a toll to simply blocking people, each time I have to resort to it its a violation of my principles, but that’s something else that’s going to have to be got past. There’s simply no reaching some people and while wanting to debate, discuss and reach people is a noble goal, it can be unrealistic.

***

A bigger problem, and one other depression sufferers will empathise with I’m sure, is that pleasure and fun has become elusive – and this has been going on years now. Even as I’ve gotten better in so many other ways it has become much harder to derive pleasure and satisfaction from things. I’ve been a gamer over 30 years now, with a consuming passion for it that has taken me into it as a career, but I’m just not getting the joy and wonder I used to from it.

Every gaming session, whether I’m running it or not, leaves me dissatisfied, frustrated and even upset. Even when everyone else involved seems to think it has gone well. Somehow I need to recapture my love of gaming and find a way to do it more. Thing is, it’s not just gaming, it’s reading, it’s computer games, all of it is simply going through the motions on mental life-support, which is rather worrisome.

***

The quote at the beginning of this look-back is from a speech Dan Dennett made, he’s quoting a friend of his – partially, but he makes a good point (even though it is a bit of a downer). When you take a stand on things, it costs you. I’m an opinionated guy with a very strong moral and ethical sense – despite accusations to the contrary.

  • That’s why I took a stand on Gamergate – and lost friends over it, or rather the lies told about it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on censorship and free speech issues – and lost friends over it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on the toxicity and nonsense of religion and woo – and lost friends over it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on various men’s issues – and weathered accusations and lost friends over it.

This year has, perhaps, brought home that people who really are friends have tolerance of difference, are willing to talk about it and those that don’t, perhaps were never really your friends in the first place. It’s never me that cuts people off (who I consider friends) but the same concern and courtesy rarely seems to extend to me. You never aid, help or support your friends seeking reward, but there is an expectation of reciprocity which, sadly it seems this year – and for a long time – hasn’t been particularly forthcoming.

On the other hand, I’ve made many new friends and acquaintances, made of sterner stuff and with similar concerns, and whom I should make the effort to cement my friendships with. I’ve also strengthened existing acquaintances, and that’s definitely worth strengthening and renewing too. To have people you can trust to give you honest feedback, knowing where you’re actually coming from rather than projecting their own biases, is good too.

***

So looking forward then, but not resolutions, because resolutions are bullshit.

  • I need to try and be more positive. Fighting to protect and defend things is great, but it necessarily means you’re always coming across negative, reacting to shitty things that other people do. This is obviously a tall order for someone with severe depression, and has never come naturally to me (a pessimist can only ever have a nice surprise).
  • I need to cement, secure and strengthen the new friendships I have.
  • I need to stop self-censoring and find a way to work through the dread of genuine harassment.
  • I need to let things go more often. People, arguments, people who don’t deserve, or return, respect or who hurl accusations when they should know better. Some progress on that this year, but not enough.
  • I need to find my enjoyment of my life’s passion, again. Somehow. Playing more games, making time for it.
  • I need to somehow overcome this exhaustion and lack of confidence to work more again, and pick more of the projects I really want to do – and let that guide what I choose to work on.

Little changes, really, but they all add up.

Wish me luck!

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Well this all sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s an interesting essay, and makes some valid points about the weight of nostalgia on this particular corner of genre fiction. But it also falls into a pattern that’s worryingly prevalent these days in the world of criticism, particularly when it gets to the topic of rape and sexual assault in fantasy. It’s at this point that Lutgendorff’s argument falls into the trap of confusing a depiction of something in a work of fiction for an endorsement of that thing (at least, in any instance where there’s an absence of explicit, unequivocal condemnation of it).

Link

 

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I was going to do this as a video, but I’m in the middle of upgrading my desktop PC so you’ll have to make do with a blog post for now.

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So, recently we all got the wonderful news that The Block Bot – a crude and breathtakingly stupid and stifling tool that came out of the AtheismPlus schism – was shutting down.

And there was much rejoicing.

rejoicing

But then… IT CAME BACK!

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Well, that’s not necessarily so bad. They seem to have kept all the wording changes etc they made to avoid legal action. Further, they’re trimming the team and consulting other people. Hopefully with a bit more legal advice and fewer and more level heads there won’t be a problem. So who are these people they’re working with?

Screenshot from 2015-03-21 19:55:13

I try not to be prejudiced, but I do think there’s a difference between prejudice and bitter experience. While I’ve met some awesome trans people in my offline life and via Gamergate, most of the ones I’ve met who are online activists are gigantic arseholes, more concerned with being gigantic shitheads to everyone that crosses their path than on education, discussion, explanation or understanding.

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Between the exhaustive lists of pronouns and the rest of the language used on the site, there’s more red flags than a North Korean march past.

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But this, THIS is the glacé cherry on the diarrhetic shit-sundae of the whole thing.

Screenshot from 2015-03-21 20:16:31

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So you’re going to put a supposed ‘anti-harassment’ tool into the hands of self-admitted racists, sexists and heterophobes?

What a brilliant idea! Almost as good as Randi Harper, considered by a great many people to be a hate-spewing harasser, setting up her own version of the bot in relation to Gamergate and trying to set up an anti harassment initiative.

Here’s some other great ideas of the same form:

  • Australian daycare by dingos.
  • The Jimmy Saville Initiative – Paedophiles working in primary schools to repay their debt to society.
  • KKK-run racial sensitivity seminars.

Seriously, all this website needs is a Confederate flag and a looping midi of banjo music to fit the degree of gobsmacking prejudice on show.

But hey, maybe they can swallow their clusterfuck of ‘isms and continue the improvements and lawsuit avoidance that has been going on already. On the other hand, maybe they’ll make things worse but engage in ‘reverse libel tourism’. That may not help if they fall afoul of anti-discrimination and hate speech legislation though.

I’ll hope for the best, but I ain’t holding my breath.

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PS: Can we all agree that this kind of ‘article’, full of shitty memes and reaction gifs, and low on words has had its fucking day by now?

 

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Sick Again

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The black dog has me in its teeth once again.

The last time I was really down was triggered by events surrounding Gamergate and the resurgence of old bullshit accusations towards me. Of course, these are ceaseless, but sometimes its worse and sometimes its better – depending on how bad the depression is at the time.

I’ve made pretty good progress dealing with external depression causes – thanks to good support structures etc – but haven’t yet figured out a means to deal with the natural ebb and flow of mood when it takes a steep dip like this.

I’m not suicidal, even though I’m pretty damn low (physical symptoms too) but it seems like I’m going to have to take a bit of time off from things. One can only pretend to be OK and ignore things (hoping they’ll go away) for so long.

So this is a courtesy note to people to let them know I’m going to be shit for anything, at least for a couple of weeks.

Love

G

x

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tumblr_llmpfoVu7p1qkwtq8o1_400I have not been well. I have not been well all this year to be honest.

This is not a story but the truth and since I don’t have a personal blog any more, this is as close as I get really. I want to keep a record of these thoughts and feelings and I don’t trust them not to get lost in their original form (G+ posts). I’m past the point of crisis now and honestly, there’s not a great deal anyone can do to help. I’m tired of needing help too. I’d rather just endure and spare anyone else the trouble of having to deal with my – apparently incurably – fucked head. At least fifty people got in touch to check on me or try to help, which intellectually must mean I’m doing something right for that many to give a damn, but fuckbrain won’t accept it. I’ll get by and I’ll get back to work.

***

I’m going to splurge and I’m going to post it public because… well, it might help someone else.

This black pit opened up under me more abruptly than usual. Usually I can feel a bout of depression this deep coming on about a week in advance. I can then ‘take measures’ to stop it affecting me so badly. I can prepare a cushioned impact so to speak.

I’ve been pretty down all of 2013 so far, unable to get my mood back up to something approaching normal. Maybe because I’ve been feeling crappy for so long it provided cover for this to surprise me, like some sort of stealthy suicidal-thought ninja.

I’m just so fucking tired of fighting these downward feelings. Every day, even if my mood is relatively elevated, its a fight to just be OK and to do day to day things. Over time that’s utterly exhausting, draining and when you run out of the effort to fight it everything crashes in.

I’m staring down a lifetime of medicated brain chemistry. Drugs that – usually – stop me wanting to kill or hurt myself but which make me tired and blunt my creativity. Things that used to take me ‘N’ days, now take me ‘N’ weeks.

I have no confidence in my work any more. It used to be the other way around. I used to be great at ignoring criticism and being bullish. All through my teens and twenties. Now every snide comment or criticism bites deep and every positive comment sounds like a lie, at least to my ears.

All of you saying you care and worry and respect me? My brain will simply not accept it. Anyone says anything positive about my work? Nope, that doesn’t go in. Negative? Remembered forever.

I always told myself I’d age gracefully but now I’m looking at a beard that’s turning white and the colour fading in my hair I can’t help but feel I’ve not accomplished much. I wanted kids ten years ago, never happened. I’m only just at the point of working properly, professionally, at the thing I love and yet am full of doubts and acute awareness that I’m now responsible for/to other people and my illness makes me a liability more than an asset much of the time.

Its like someone reversed the polarity on my emotional armour. I used to be able to ignore the criticism and the hate. Now it passes right through and friendship – and even love – doesn’t penetrate. I feel completely alone even around people I care about and I know – intellectually – are my friends.

I am sick of arguing with people and having my character besmirched simply because I value free expression over someone’s hurt feelings. Sick of being called a bigot or a misogynist for expressing doubt or calling out someone else’s bigotry that they’re blind to. I am a thoughtful, caring guy – or at least I try to be – and to be discounted or counted amongst people I consider foes is heartbreaking. I know I can’t control what other people think but every time it feels like a personal failing.

I can’t do anything without someone being suspicious. I can’t work with people without aspersions being cast. If I’m friendly with or help out someone it is supposed I’m doing it for me, or if its a young lady because I’m some sort of creeper pervert. Even though I’m married.

I have a ‘highly developed sense of fairness’ as a friend described it. Often to my personal detriment. I pay people more than I owe them. I extend deadlines to accommodate people. If someone’s hurting and I feel a connection I’ll help them out even if I can’t really afford to. The really bad part is that I then expect to be treated fairly in return. Because of that I’m now entangled in a potential legal issue which should – in my mind – simply be settled by ‘Come on dude, you’ve made millions off our ideas. Surely you can spare a few extra grand and an acknowledgement, yeah?’ But no…

All these people saying they respect me, care, like my work. Its just not getting through I’m sorry to say. Especially when someone saying it is someone who has otherwise been dismissive or critical. People are complicated, but fuckbrain only remembers the bad.

I hate having to ask for help. I hate needing to be held up. I hate this needy side of me that craves validation and care but rejects it when it comes along. I’m terrified, constantly, about showing weakness (I was bullied a lot as a kid) and about being abandoned for being needy and broken. Don’t say it doesn’t happen. When I feel crap I can’t help others and I’ve let a couple of people down by being unable to cope with their issues alongside my own.

Beloved, kind, genius, those things don’t penetrate however much I love and care about the people saying them. Misogynist, fuckwit, idiot, bastard, those do, no matter how much I don’t care about the people saying them.

The emotional down makes me hobble around like an old man. It makes everything hurt and makes life seem insurmountable and that’s when cutting, pain or death seems preferable to struggling on another day, another week, another month, another year.

***

I’m going to share a deeper level of what fucks with my head than I normally do. I have discussed this with a few people in private, and touched on it and hinted a little but not this publicly before. It contains non-graphic TMI which you may wish to avoid. Otherwise, keep reading.

I am what I have recently taken to calling a ‘non practising dom’, or sadist. My sexuality is something that has never really had a space in which to express itself safely, living isolated as I usually have and not having gotten on with ‘the scene’ at all, even at a remove. Some of you will find the idea of me being a dom or a sadist shocking, frightening or even laughable given what a softie I am but what can I say? People are complicated and have hidden depths.

This understanding of self has come with enormous difficulty, cost and personal struggle. Reconciling some of the things that turn me on with my upbringing to be a nice, respectful, polite young man who holds doors open for ladies and believes in equality has – at times – been soul-destroying. I’ve been made fun of in the past for comparing this anguish with that of bi or homosexual people coming out but honestly, I think it can be as bad. As a teenager trying to understand why I felt this way I even prayed, me, the devout atheist, for these feelings to go away because they scared me beyond reason. I believed the lie that being like this meant I was some sort of monster, that I’d end up a rapist or a serial killer or something. Of course that’s not true, OF COURSE, but you don’t know that when you’re young and still finding yourself and when your head is full of ‘New Man’ newspaper articles.

I made a concious decision, mid way through last year, to be more ‘myself’ about many things, including this. This is part of the reason I’ve been calling out misandry and censorious attitudes more when I see them because the only place I have to safely indulge or explore this part of me is in pornography and erotica. I remember the kid I was and how awful I was made to feel and yes, it makes me angry. Testosterone will do that. It doesn’t mean I’m wrong though.

It has been my good fortune throughout my life to know people who have worked in the adult and fetish industries in various capacities and – with one notable exception – they have all been brilliant, caring, wonderful people who it has been a privilege to call friend.

When someone tells me the things that turn me on are misogynistic, hateful, ‘bad’, objectifying, I think about the people I know. Some of whom I have seen perform and how I absolutely do not objectify or hate them. The act, the presentation is one thing and the person another. Even those I don’t know personally or as acquaintances I still think of as human beings and I can’t ‘grok’ why seeing things in more than one way is so hard for some people.

Bringing this up terrifies me more than the other aspects of my depression but it’s another, deeper level to it. A sense of self-loathing that comes from the unthinking, unfeeling judgement of others over a lifetime. I judge myself too for something that I honestly have no control over. Or rather, I’ve exercised as much control as I can over it. Too much control. A girlfriend in the past once wanted me to tear her clothes from her and I froze up. It was a step too far. Could I let that ‘beast’ out and still control it? What should have been a wonderful memory is now a moment of embarrassment that sneaks up on me.

Sex, to me, is an expression of love and care, of adoration and closeness. So I’ve never been a ‘playa’ and for various reasons I am, frankly, incapable of ‘wandering’ off the preservation due to my personality and my past. I love my wife deeply and fiercely, more than life itself, but I cannot deny who and what I am. Nor can I live with it it seems. I swing between the two day by day, pride and shame, and I disgust myself far more than is fair and far more than I disgust the righteous activists who condemn me and those like me, despite consensuality being so damn elementary in all forms of BDSM.

***

The day after the previous one.

After you’ve had some sort of crisis you kind of expect something to change. Something to develop. If your life was a film the crisis acts as a catharsis and gives you the gumption to do something important to further the plot. You expect to be running to the plane and singing to Drew Barrymore over the intercom but what you actually end up doing is waking up and looking at the clock resentfully like Bill Murray, toying with the idea of smashing it with a hammer.

Life isn’t the movies and even though you’ve faced down a desire to die and beaten it you just have to carry on. The work is still there to do. The house is still a mess. The cat needs food. You have to pick up the groceries or make a doctor’s appointment and nothing has really changed.

What’s the blow back going to be? I splurged and purged and more people than I could respond to got in touch wanting to help but fuckbrain says this is about them, not me. They just wanted to be seen to help, to feel better for themselves. Fuckbrain doesn’t think I write about this eloquently, fuckbrain kicks me in the balls for repeatedly messing up its/it’s despite knowing the right one. The idea of someone thinking I write eloquently or well about as difficult a topic as my mental health issues is hilarious to fuckbrain.

I characterised this as Captain Bringdown, or a harsh schoolmaster straight out of the 1950s. ‘Oh, you think you’re CLEVER do you Desborough?’ This may be why they put me on the antipsychotics as well. It is, though like being constantly dressed down by an evil authority figure in your head. ‘You’ll never amount to anything, BOY.’

I don’t feel that much better, but here I am, poring over documents doing research for work. Making (hopefully) witty comments on Twitter and acting as though everything is OK because… what else am I supposed to do? Still, something dramatic happens and you expect something to change – but it doesn’t.

Has there been blowback? Mostly understanding. One person on Twitter I follow because they’re an arsehole being an arsehole about telling people you’re suicidal, but that’s par for the course really. Its something you do instead of edging closer to the act, a cry for help, I’m sure some people do it for attention but others really need it. A few of the religious of the annoying type telling me its because of my atheism and god is punishing me. Overall though, people have been nice, I just can’t accept it. Not easily.

Tomorrow’s just another day.

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My mind tends to wander and mull over things when I walk and I’m trying to up my exercise for my mental and physical health so my mind’s been wandering a lot lately. On this wander, for no reason in particular, though perhaps percolated through from watching the first episode of The Newsroom (I won’t be a regular watcher though. We have this myth of the citizen journalist, the blogger, the brave new cutting edge of political, social and scientific commentary and news. Newspaper readership is plunging and news shows and channels are polarising politically and becoming more and more extreme and opinionated in chasing a smaller and smaller audience.

There’s a problem though. The citizen journalist isn’t a journalist. They’re not bound by ethics (little wonder then that journos are increasingly forgetting theirs). Many of them are just soapboxing their own opinions, spouting a particular dogma, chasing a particular demographic as though they were selling something rather than informing us. They are selling us something, what we want to hear. Fox News is probably the most egregious case of a politicised news channel, commercialising right wing politics and providing comforting mooing noises to the American right wing. They’re by no means the only ones to do so and one can find similar bias going the ‘other way’ if you look for it. I lean left so I’m not so sensitised to it, but I acknowledge that it’s there.

The irony is that this is absolutely not what we need from the mainstream media any more. If I want opinion I can read any of thousands of blogs. I can dip into my twitter feed or search on the hashtag of the item in question, like the #arabspring. I get ill informed emails and facebook messages from distant relatives and friends of friends all the time. I am drowning in opinion, conjecture and dogma the entire time I’m logged into the internet. These aren’t citizen journalists, they’re gossips.

Gossip is great, witnesses are great, people like Laurie Penny who go out there and become part of the news and report from the front lines are all well and good but they’re not giving us THE news. They’re giving us THEIR news. It’s the same with Fox etc in the US and to a lesser extent here in the UK, at least on television. We’ve been somewhat spoiled by the BBC which, other than its simpering towards the Royal Family gets criticised from all sides of the political spectrum which is generally a good indicator that they’re doing something right. Our printed news sources are as partisan and biased, if not more so, than the US though.

Market pressure, the commodification of information, has ruined television news on an international basis and it is creeping in to the UK now despite our public institutions. It’s making these big news companies do things that they’re simply not suited to. No television broadcast can hope to keep up with the internet when it comes to breaking stories. No television broadcast can tailor itself to fit someone’s views precisely. People stream their own opinion-based news from the blogs, RSS feeds, twitter subscriptions etc that they make for themselves.

Broadcast TV can’t compete with that and equally individualist internet journalism cannot hope to compete – still – with the prestige and weight that broadcast news does.

What broadcast news should be doing is not giving us more opinion, not trying to stay on top of breaking stories. What broadcast news with the money and resources that it still commands should be doing is offering us THE news, free from bias. Broadcast news should be doing the analysis, the depth, talking to the experts. ‘This is what happened, this is what educated and intelligent people are saying was involved’. Not blame games, just the pursuit of truth and accuracy with an integrity that makes it trustworthy.

Leave the opinion and shouting to the ‘citizen journalist’.

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