The comments

Here is the comment I recieved on my ‘About’ page in response to my speech on The Big Debate. I have also included the subsequent comments and the debate that ensued:

  1. Quaker June 10, 2008 at 9:51 am

    I thought I would comment to say just how poor I thought your contribution to the (not-so) Big Debate was: self-regarding, self-referential and self-indulgent, all the things necessary to be a journalist, I suggest, and exactly why the Internet has made the media industry all but redundant. I am not interested in your nervous paralysis, and you seem utterly charmless to me (I mention this only because you invited us to empathise with you. I can’t. In fact, I wondered how you got invited onto the panel, which made me think some quite unsavoury things about you). I was struck by the vapidity of your ideas. And you can’t even spell.

    What you completely failed to understand was that we all know now that the NEWS is a tiny set of facts, and that the MEDIA have had a monopoly on wild speculation about those facts (which they rarely get right) that has now come to an end. But the evolutionary model you are basing your speculations on is the wrong one. Existing BIG MEDIA is more like the train companies of the 19th century. The internal combustion engine did for them because it could take people to exactly where they wanted to go rather than to where the train companies wanted to take them. Take note of the fate of travel agents and electrical appliances shops: we use them to have a look at what we want to buy, and then we go on line to get what we want.

  2. joannageary June 10, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Quaker (it would be nice to know your real name, as you know mine),

    Wow. I am shocked by your comment.

    I am sorry that you did not agree with the argument that I put forward. I am interested in other opinions. Your train analogy makes a lot of sense and is not far off the point I was trying to make. Perhaps it didn’t come across like that.

    However, is it absolutely necessary to be so personally insulting? I am quite shocked at the things you are intimating which, I believe, are verging on libellous.

  3. paul nicholls June 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Well Quaker, as someone who knows Jo on-line, and having met her at a blogger’s function I think I have to say that you’ve obviously a very skewed view.

    I always think it’s incredibly cowardly to post something on the internet after seeing someone present. Did you take the time to speak to Jo? I think I can probably guess the answer: no, you were too probably too cowardly to do so.

    I’ll be very happy to advise Jo that your post has crossed the line to the extent that it’s actionable. Oh, and I’m not posting this after a quick trip to Google / Wikipedia, I’m a litigation lawyer of nearly 25 years experience.

    Two things: give a link where Jo can trace your anonymised comment and proceed as she sees fit, or apologise for such a rude and highly personalized post.

  4. Dave Briggs June 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Well done, Quaker. You’ve proved the internet dickwad theory.

  5. Andy Mabbett June 10, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    @Quaker Your cowardly, anonymised personal attack on Joanna is inexcusable.

  6. Tinnion June 10, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Hi Joanna

    I tuned into the webcast of the conference that took place yesterday after I caught a message from Paul (Nicholls) to yourself on twitter. I got in a bit late but managed to see the last part of your presentation and listened to the panel discussion.

    I am no journalist or expert presenter but I still think you did an excellent job of presenting your point to the audience and in answering the questions especially some challenging ones from the chair. It’s obvious to me you know you’re stuff inside out, or you are an amazing quick thinker – either way a job well done.

    I will follow you on twitter -) btw. we have bumped into each other on Seesmic once before.

    All the best

  7. Paul Groves June 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Hi Jo,

    My initial response was to say ignore Quaker. Such idiocy often goes with the territory as a journalist, but this has crossed the line.

    Steve Pain wrote a useful piece on blogging and the law today, or take Paul Nicholls up on his offer.

    It is unacceptable.

    Keep doing what you’re doing – at this rate I’ll start wishing I’d never left the Post, I’m beginning to feel a bit envious ;-)


  8. Shona June 10, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Come on Quaker, with such judgemental and personal statements at least have the balls to come out from behind the pseudonym. If you can’t do that, you’re plainly a simpering little coward.

  9. Kevin Rapley June 10, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Jo, there will always be people in this world who get eaten by jealousy. Unfortunately for whomever Quaker is, this fate has fallen upon them and their normal rational behaviour becomes skewed, misguided and unfounded through this dibilitating spite. It is incredible how anonymity can create this illusion of invincibility and ability to say what the damn well they like. I liken it to motorists tucked up inside their metal boxes screaming frofanities at each other.

    On a much brighter note, I found your case very much inline with my own, thoughtful and considered. It was obviously a nerve-racking experience to talk on the panel in front of so many people and to defend your case. You even declared your nerves at the start, but it did not show throughout and I felt you represented me and my peers who work with digital, social media and the Internet day in, day out.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. Keri Davies June 10, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Quaker has clearly not learned the distinction between attacking an argument and attacking the person. As a result, the points that he (I do suspect “he” ;) wanted to make are now obscured by the outrage he’s caused by his unacceptable ad hominem remarks.

  11. Harry Albright June 11, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Well if that comment really is from a Quaker (the religious, not the gameplaying variety!) then I will eat my hat.

    I got my start in community journalism, and I know that there will always be a place for local newspapers. People want to know what is happening in their communities, and the reality is that most people are lazy (or busy, to be more charitable). They prefer to have things spoon fed to them rather than going out and searching for it themselves, no matter how easy the internet has made it for them. If they can pick up the Post and read it on the way home, it means they can do other things once they get there. Yes, the advent of the mobile internet makes it possible to go on line whilst on the move (I do it all the time), but again, people don’t want to waste time (and possibly money) searching; they will go to trusted sources.

    I think your presentation was the best of the bunch, despite your nervousness (perfectly understandable since it was your first experience of this kind). You actually addressed the topic! Posters like the one above clearly know very little about the media and the internet and their comments are not worth the pixels they are displayed with!

  12. Harry Albright June 11, 2008 at 8:13 am

    I should add I am not convinced about the train analogy. Trains are still around and getting more and more popular (I know, I use them every day). And look at the renaissance of trams! Sometimes, change is not for the better, and we go back and adapt what worked in the past for today. TV didn’t do for radio either, and the internet won’t do for TV, radio or the print media – at least the ones that are able to adapt .

  13. 7worlds June 11, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Ok so, the big debate causes one person to voice their ‘beyond strong’ opinions and the best everyone else can do is press panic buttons and actually respond in a manner no better than this Miss/Mr Quaker person.

    For sure, there was no need to “make it so personal”, but unfortunately, just because someone feels so strongly about something that they chose to do that, it does not necessarily invalidate everything they were trying to say. Just because it left a bad taste in *your* mouth, it doesn’t mean that another person isn’t entitled to freedom of thought and speech. If you put yourself on a public platform, then you should expect and be able to take the rough with the smooth.

    I note at this point that JG’s response was wholly measured and along those lines – it’s the small army of no-better-than-Quaker people who immediately reached for their small arms that I’m getting at.

    Whilst anyone who has had any kind of dealing with JG will know, she wouldn’t intentionally adopt a stance that was “self-regarding, self-referential and self-indulgent” – but if someone felt that, maybe, just maybe, there was a hint of that going on. That’s neither a call to hire a hitman to “get” Quaker, or a reason for JG to confine herself to a dark room and make a vow to stick to pen and paper for the rest of her life. Its time for some measured self appraisal.

    Shock horror for saying that, I mean, JG is such a nice person (the sarcasm in that line should not detract from JG actually being that by the way), she couldn’t possibly do anything wrong….or so seems the responses from the JG fan-club mafia.

    I’m not condoning the way Quaker went about it – but all jumping on the “oh you’re so wonderful” bandwagon isn’t what this is all about. Listen, analyse and respond in a measured fashion, even if that makes you initially uncomfortable about yourself. It’s not the end of the world, nobody is infallible – and you might just go away stronger and better from dealing with what was said, than ignoring it, or being comforted by a fan club with their own bias.

    Sometimes we all need our feet placing back on the ground – an abrupt enforced re-assessment of what we’re doing. See the positives, not fight fire with fire.

  14. David June 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Quaker makes interesting points towards the end of his posting, but the septic way he opened his comment was very sad and undermined anything constructive he might have had to add to the debate.

    Jo took to the stage in a public forum and shared her opinions. People were invited to share their opinions too. Sadly, for Quaker, obviously a big fan of the way the web is shaping the media landscape, his/her way of entering the debate is to hide behind a fake name and become very abusive for no obvious reason. Why the fake name? Something to hide?

    Jo´s blog has sparked many interesting debates in recent months, and it is very sad that someone tries to be so personal in an attack.

    Jo, keep up the good work. The blog is excellent. The fact it is picked up by so many other blogs and cross-referenced to from the likes of Press Gazette show the regard it is held in. Don´t let the disappointing behaviour of the likes of Quaker put you off. Opinion is only undermined by the way it is delivered.

  15. Pete Ashton June 11, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    @7worlds: The “JG fan-club mafia” is more like people who consider Jo a friend. When someone attacks your friend you tend to get on the defensive and lose perspective a bit. This is why I haven’t responded to the misogynistic coward in question as I don’t think I be able to hold myself back from tearing him a new goatse.

    When you upset my friend (who has earned that friendship for a reason) with gross insinuations then it’s open season I’m afraid, regardless of whatever good points you my or may not have made.

  16. 7worlds June 11, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Sorry @Pete Ashton, that feels like school playground/George Bush Jnr-eque diplomacy. “You upset my friend so its open season”. Oh please. How many pointless wars have raged along those lines.

    Clearly, it’s preferable if nobody gets upset – and it would have been preferable if the Quaker person didn’t choose to ruffle feathers with real live bullets. But, they did, it stung like hell, but if you get involved in a “big debate”, hell, it’s all part of the game to light the blue touch paper now and then. We all must have the stomach to deal with that, not wage war – Quaker’s part of this social webby world too, marginalising them, demonsing them, well thats no better.

    Quaker’s angry. Engage, diffuse….move forward together. Sorry if that’s too much like hippy-cr@p, but the web is a world community, it would be good if we didn’t make a mess of the online world like we do in the real one. That goes for Quaker too of course.

  17. joannageary June 11, 2008 at 8:42 pm


    First of all I would just like to thank those who have offered kind words. They have been very much appreciated.

    I want to stress I am a passionate believer in free speech. I have no reservations about receiving critical comments – however upsetting they might be. I want to learn and to improve.

    If I have appeared to someone as self-serving, self-referential and self-indulgent then they are very much within their rights to say that to me.

    However, unsavoury and wildly inaccurate intimations that put a slur on my professional and personal character are not acceptable.

    The experience has taught me some valuable lessons about the consequences of putting yourself in the public eye, even at a very low level. It is something I believe journalists are going to have to do more of and we need to make sure they are prepared.

    I will be writing a post on this tomorrow and incorporating all the comments from this page.

    Therefore I hope you will understand that, as this is my ‘about’ page, I don’t want to keep this rather upsetting debate up here permanently.

    So, midday tomorrow I will be turning comments off on this page. I hope that gives everyone sufficient warning.

    Many thanks.


  18. Pete Ashton June 11, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    @7words, since this will all vanish tomorrow I’ll just say I wasn’t excusing the reaction and didn’t want to imply it was a good thing, merely explain that when you insult (not criticise – insult) someone who has developed friendships online by being a good internet citizen (or whatever you want to call it) then you have to expect their friends to bite back.

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