Bloggers: ‘people with too much time on their hands’?

Here’s a thing. Wendy Austin speaking on Good Morning Ulster this morning whilst talking about golf (around 8.25): “…blogs … I think the people who write these have little to do”. Priceless!

It is a fact that some bloggers (in the US and the UK) have little else to do but blog and write/lecture about blogging: primarily because it pays them to do so! Others are fully occupied elsewhere but bring keen expertise to bare on specific issues and consequently can have major effects on wider public debate. She could do worse than get a copy of Iain Dale’s A list of UK bloggers. Even better Wendy and RU colleagues, come to Dublin on 7th October, and join the conversation. We welcome sceptics, as much as the smug converts!Wendy’s remark though (however light and off the cuff) does raise questions about 1) how useful blogs are, and/ 2) whether mainstream journalists are still stuck in old, increasingly outdated practices?

  • Pete Baker

    “little to do”?

    Cheers Wendy.

    Too bloody much to do and too little time.

    btw Mick, “while talking about golf” heh

  • Miss Fitz

    I missed that little gem, even though I was listening to GMU this morning. I have to say, I really enjoy the programme and think its a good example of local radio in the morning.

    One point however about GMU, they seem to be encouraging people to text in comments more and more these days, and its beginning to feel like every programme on RU wants to be like Talkback!

    For one, I have loads to do, thanks Wendy, but find this a valuable and immediate resource. I was speaking to a ‘prominent’ person last week about Slugger who said that whenever a big story breaks the first reaction is to go to Slugger and find out whats ‘really’ happening.

    Anyway, Wendy, I am hurt

  • “Wendy Austin” I wouldn’t listen to her after watching her do a u-turn in her clapped out Volvo near traffic lights on the Belmont Road in Belfast.If her attitude to the rules of the road is “I don’t give a fuck” my attitude to what she says is the same πŸ™‚

  • Rory

    Help! Who, or what, is Wendy Austin, please?

  • Mick Fealty

    Now CS, that may (or may not) be genuinely funny. But you are playing the (wo)man. Please desist!

  • Mick Fealty

    Hit the link Rory!

  • James St John Smythe

    It seems a bit rich to accuse journalists of outdated practices when this website relies on mainstream journalism for ninety per cent of its material.
    If it didn’t, and generated the news itself, I doubt very much that it would be that different from the mainstream media. Having a comments section is hardly unique nowadays and the online versions have been hamstrung by the appearance of libel suits against internet users.
    The majority of blogs are written by people who have missed the boat in academic terms and therefore haven’t got a hope in hell of getting into mainstream journalism.
    Every little pro and anti blog comment in the mainstream media is picked up here. Insecurity?

  • Miss Fitz

    Interestingly, the opposite also appears to happen. Mainstream media appears to watch the blogosphere with sharp and keen eyes, and often pick up stories and themes from Slugger.

    As to that old nonsense about bloggers being either failed academics or wannabe journalists, your argument has been trotted out here before and fully discredited.

    If anyone appears to be getting nervous, or feeling a chill wind on their necks, its certainly the terrestrials.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not making accusations James, simply raising questions. Did you miss the first part of the question and the references to the wider world of blogs beyond Slugger O’Toole?

  • Mick,

    can I mention [best not to CyberS – edited moderator]

    Surely the way these people drive and park, displays the “real” person and their general attitude.

    Now I’ve got to do a Google on “James St John Smythe” and find out more about the man who says “The majority of blogs are written by people who have missed the boat in academic terms”
    Thank God it’s Smythe and not Smith πŸ˜‰

  • ….a little Googling and I found this.
    Anyone Googles for me, God help you πŸ˜‰

  • James St John Smythe

    Um, I think you’ll find it’s quite a common alias since it’s one used by James Bond in a View to a Kill.

  • James St John Smythe

    Do you really think people use their real names here CyberScribe?

  • Mick Fealty

    CS, No you can’t! At least James is posting on subject!!!

  • James St John Smythe

    And no my argument has not been fully discredited because I would imagine that if you asked the vast majority of blog writers whether they would give up their blog for a job in mainstream journalism, they would bite your hand off.

  • Mick Fealty


    Returning to the subject, I’m not sure what point you are making about missing the boat to academia? Blogging is a participatory sport, the bar for entry is low, so the field is massive and the quality uneven. According to Technorati the numbers double every six months.

    But the numbers also mean it has an extraordinary capacity to feed a long tail of specialist audiences. Thus the link to the NHS Doctor’s blog. There are others written by nurses, cops, firemen: people who do ‘ordinary’ jobs but give their insights into how their world works, or doesn’t.

    Adds: I think your comment on the attractions of journalism for blogs may be a reflection your prefered spectrum of blog reading, and perhaps the current early level growth in the Irish blogosphere.

  • James St John Smythe
    “Do you really think people use their real names here CyberScribe?” Umm, I don’t know. I’ll think about that one;-)

    “can I mention [best not to CyberS – edited moderator]

    Thanks Mick!
    Like the majority of bloggers “I’m all for free speech”;-)

  • harry flashman

    I am of the opinion that blogging in particular and the internet in general is the modern day equivalent of the penny press and the Guthenberg Bible. It allows the ordinary proles to express their viewpoints and receive information in a way never before imagined.

    As such this phenomena upsets the vested interests. In the same way that old style Tories and Catholic archbishops recoiled in horror from the idea of the masses being permitted to discuss issues among themselves free from the direction of the controlling elites so the modern day journos wish to waft away in disgust the bloggers such as they would a particularly maloderous fart.

    You can see their point, they spent the best part of their lives struggling up the greasy pole of journalism, getting the right degress, kissing the arses of the right editors, slogging for years at the Births Marriages and Deaths column just for the right to be able to bore us all to death with their “unique” insights (actually utterly undiscernable from 97% of the rest of the stuff produced by their colleagues). Now horror of horrors every dog’s mooter with a keyboard and an internet connection can do it!

    Well tough boys, the free and unrestricted right to published opinions is here to stay, sorry about your marvellous degree but we can all call bullshit when we see it and your years of sedulous slogging will count for naught if you stick up a photoshopped picture or recycle some falsehood that your colleagues have hawked around for years.

    There is of course a huge need for mainstream journalism, but what they must in all modesty learn now is that in the words of the old cop show, they must “stick to the facts Ma’am, just the facts.”

  • Wendy’s living in the past.

  • pith

    David Vance: “Wendy’s living in the past.”

    Agreed. In fact, that’s what I said but I’ve been chopped.

  • Patty

    I think many in the mainstream media are threatened by blogs because of the freedom. No longer is it possible for media outlets with agendas, either hidden or stated, to control the message.

    James: The argument that blogs are dependent on traditional news outlets for most of their actual source materials looks reasonable on the surface; bloggers don’t have teams of field reporters and photographers on staff. However, many bloggers write about their own areas of expertise and have a better understanding of the field and better access to information than traditional reporters.

    Also, blogs don’t need large teams of staff reporters because one blog may link to many other blogs; in this way, the blogosphere compiles more “facts on the ground” than the MSM. Consider the recent war in Lebanon. In several cases, individual bloggers throughout the area linked together giving a more complete picture of the conflict than possible with the MSM.

    To imply that bloggers are somehow failed journalists indicates to me that you are not reading many blogs. From posts to reader comments, the blogosphere is a boisterous international town square, filled with experts and thinkers, philosophers and doers. It is stimulating, sophisticated and unfiltered in the most refreshing way. There is tremendous talent in the blogoshpere and it’s potential is only just now being tapped.

    Long live freedom of speech.

  • Helman J Finksbury Jr

    Does Wendy realise that one of her BBC NI colleagues is wasting his time writing a blog from Northern Ireland? Maybe she thinks Will Crawley has too much time on his hands????

  • Ghost of PDN Past

    Mainstream journalism is the Old Testament. Blogging is the New Testament, and beyond.

  • Someone who spends a couple of hours on the radio per day complains that bloggers have too much time on their hands? Hmm…

  • “I think the people who write these have little to do”

    Wendy, Wendy, Wendy. Yer a sweet thing with good intentions but it’s only half right and all assbackwards. Get it right liebchen. What you meant to say was:

    Bloggers are people with nothing to say writing for people with nothing to do.

    See, now you’ve pissed everyone off with just two additional words.

    TTFN, dear, got somthin’ to do.

  • Royston

    As to how useful blogs are;i live in S Wales and holiday everyyear in Inishowen i’ve had alongtime interest in Northern Ireland but even on holiday i rarely get east of the Bann.I find Slugger keeps me up to speed on events there that are rarely reported over here and he avoids me having to wade through NI newspaper websites.Also it lets me see if my elected representative Peter Hain MP is earning his money!Keep up the good work

  • Smilin Jim,
    I took my time writing this…
    Commenters on blogs, are commenting on blogs by bloggers who are people with nothing to say writing for people with nothing to do. πŸ˜‰

  • Aaron_Scullion

    Wendy’s comments are really not in the spirit of the BBC’s blogs trial πŸ™‚

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin


    Your remarks are particularly welcome!

  • Concision, concision, concision, Cyberscribe. Most of these readers are doing this on the sly under their employer’s ever watchful eye. It should have been written thusly:

    Blog commenters comment on what people with nothing to say write for people with nothing to do.

    Five fewer words and maybe the boss still thinks the slacker is actually working.

    And on with the infinity of mirrors;

    Commenters commenting on blog comments comment on that which people with nothing to do say about that which people with nothing to say write for those with nothing to do.

    And the vessel with the pestle contains the brew that’s true.

  • Aaron_Scullion

    does wendy know about this!

  • While I could find little more about what Wendy Austin said than what Mick wrote to start this thread, her claims sound much like the old saw about academics being the ones who could not do anything but teach.

    This was totally untrue in most cases, and teaching is far harder and more demanding than most people imagine.

    And to belittle what bloggers do – even the most wrong-headed and stubborn ones – is to demean all of us. It is not some kind of internet game, but a serious concern for all involved.

    In short, it is a kind of vocation, not vacation, which spreads information, opinion, concern, critical thinking, etc., far beyond what occurred before it was invented.

    And the best evidence that it is getting ahead even here is that the spammers have now taken over.

  • wendy austin

    Just for the record – I have never owned or driven a Volvo.