There’s been a bit of talk lately about blogs and their credibility. We’ve even got a wine blogger conference coming up in October that will address the very issue.
So yes, that old horse needs another beating, and I’m here to deliver the blows (you’ll see why that could be considered pun of Giles-ian proportions below).
The Real Writer’s Secret Weapon
One of the classic criticisms of bloggers is that they lack an editorial filter. Grammatical
error errors, misspelled worlds words and poor fact checking are the triad of deadly sins of which bloggers are most often accused.
The editorial filters that Real Writers have access to, their secret weapons, are what are referred to in Real Journalism as “subs” (short for subeditors). Subs are in charge of cleaning up prose, spell checking, fact checking, grammar checking, and house style checking. They even write headlines, layout and publish pages, and edit picture galleries. In short, they rock.
If you’re a blogger, a sub sounds like the ultimate writer’s resource right? Can you imagine someone doing all that for you each time you post? It’s like having a live-in maid.
Yet for Guardian UK restaurant critic Giles Coren, not so much. That’s him over on the left. Giles, you see, is an Artiste and to his way of thinking subs are simply a rag-tag bunch of “useless c*nts”. His words not mine. But I don’t want to step all over Giles and quote him out of context! Instead I’ll let him take the wheel from here.
From the Guardian UK
I am mightily pissed off. I have addressed this to Owen, Amanda and Ben because I don’t know who i am supposed to be pissed off with (i’m assuming owen, but i filed to amanda and ben so it’s only fair), and also to Tony, who wasn’t here – if he had been I’m guessing it wouldn’t have happened.
I don’t really like people tinkering with my copy for the sake of tinkering. I do not enjoy the suggestion that you have a better ear or eye for how I want my words to read than I do. Owen, we discussed your turning three of my long sentences into six short ones in a single piece, and how that wasn’t going to happen anymore, so I’m really hoping it wasn’t you that f*cked up my review on saturday.
It was the final sentence. Final sentences are very, very important. A piece builds to them, they are the little jingle that the reader takes with him into the weekend.
I wrote: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosÃ© and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh.”
It appeared as: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosÃ© and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh.”
There is no length issue. This is someone thinking “I’ll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate c*nt and i know best”.
Well, you f*cking don’t.
This was sh*t, sh*t sub-editing for three reasons…
…’Nosh’, as I’m sure you fluent Yiddish speakers know, is a noun formed from a bastardisation of the German ‘naschen’. It is a verb, and can be construed into two distinct nouns. One, ‘nosh’, means simply ‘food’. You have decided that this is what i meant and removed the ‘a’…
…I will now explain why your error is even more sh*t than it looks. You see, i was making a joke. I do that sometimes. I have set up the street as “sexually-charged”. I have described the shenanigans across the road at G.A.Y.. I have used the word ‘gaily’ as a gentle nudge. And “looking for a nosh” has a secondary meaning of looking for a blowjob. Not specifically gay, for this is soho, and there are plenty of girls there who take money for noshing boys. “looking for nosh” does not have that ambiguity. the joke is gone. I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you’ve f*cking stripped it out like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks sh*t with a bear so plastering over it. You might as well have removed the whole paragraph. I mean, f*cking christ, don’t you read the copy?
That’s right, the sub’s irredeemable offense was that he or she removed an “a.”
Better still, at the end of the day all this anger and vitriol is over an infantile blowjob joke. And a bad one at that. I’m pretty hip to the lingo and the whole gay thing and the blowjob reference went – WHOOP – right over my head. And if no one gets your joke? Yeah, not funny.
It’s clear to me though that wine and food bloggers have quite a ways to go before we can measure up to the Giles Corens of the world. You know, Professionals.
And if you think that Giles is just a lone voice crying expletives in the wilderness, you’d be wrong. Here’s Laura Barton giving Giles an old atta boy for “taking one for the team.” Apparently he’s the team’s spokesman!
Incidentally, I wonder how many subeditors have blogs? It seems like the perfect medium for their skills. They can write, self edit and self fact check. You know, everything Real Writers like Giles can’t!
Just have a look at the subeditors response piece to Giles. Well written, witty, and classy.
Somebody, quick! Get the Sunday Times subeditors WordPress accounts!
For more Giles fun, here are the collected misadventures courtesy of the Guardian website.