Good anarchist reporting is...

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Rob Ray
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Nov 25 2005 20:06

Yeah I do tend to do bullet points when talking to simpletons, sometimes it helps them understand the concept.

1. No. You didn't qustion the need for a target audience, you assumed that the target audience was anarchists, and suggested that it should be open to all, which you said should be achieved by having everyone write in their own style.

It had already been said earlier in the thread that writing should be outward looking. However, I then said that the tone of a paper is important, because if you have lots of different styles it simply makes the thing unreadable for all. Thus the style should be done in such a way to hit a target audience.

If you also want a professional reason for that, it is that people picking up a newspaper don't do it hoping to have to wade through dozens of different styles, because it's fucking hard work. Anarchist publishing is up against it on so many different levels, ideological, economic, social, cultural. I have no idea why you'd want to make life even more difficult by handicapping the anarchist press to make it more difficult to get through than everything else. I don't read Aufheben, I do read Class War sometimes. That's just my temperament, but I wouldn't read either if they were just mashed together in the way you suggest.

2. On that basis, telling someone in the pub that they're wrong, on any issue, is authoritarian. If 'authority' (and I fail to see how anyone could be so stupid as to confuse the rather vague idea of an 'authoritative voice' meaning trustworthiness in news with the ability to impose orders on other human beings) is the intention to change minds, then perhaps you should be quiet?

3. Oh ffs this is building a hysterical straw man to deal with a real point. When did I say that we should be doing exactly what they do down to what stories to report/veing advert based etc? I picked out two very specific things we should be taking from them, and said we should draw lessons on the basis they're a hell of a lot fucking better at it than us. I assumed, apparently wrongly, that you'd have the wit to understand the difference, as this is a libertarian board. Sorry for overestimating your intelligence there.

4. Production standards are inextrcably linked in the public mind with continuity, balance and trustworthiness. You can't have one without the other. There are lots of untrustworthy publications out there, but they sell in the millions, because they do very well a the first and pretend in excellent fashion on the second.

Actually, I think you'll fnd that since it started changing itself to be more like a real paper, the BNP have put on tens of thousands of readers despite abhorrent views. The Morning Star remains a large paper, as does the Socialist Worker (at least in leftist terms). The hundreds of zines, newsletters, websites etc which do exactly what you suggest are... where, exactly? I agree that the MS/SW are dreadful papers, but that's for completely different reasons than you are spouting, in your spectacularly uninformed manner.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 26 2005 01:48

It's late, so i'm only going to deal with point 2 at the moment. I am not conflating two divorced meanings of 'authority', although i can see the misconception. A person may claim to be, or be recognised as, an 'authority' on a particular subject, fair enough. Attempting to give a publication the status of an authority on everything, however, can never be anything other than an elaborate lie. Anarchist papers do not have correspondants in every capital city in the world, their writers will always be, from a certain point of view, less informed than their rivals in the mainstream press. This is why i would object to the idea of an anarchist publication as an 'authoritative voice'. It is all to the good that an author is an authority on the subject he his writing about (as I, in this case, am not to any great extent), but to extend this to the assumption that the paper as a whole is an authoritative source in general is both false and dangerous reasoning, as no such source of information exists. There may be two meanings for the word authority, but they are not linked by coincidence alone.

ps. this is a no flaming forum:

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Sorry for overestimating your intelligence there
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in your spectacularly uninformed manner.
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when talking to simpletons

While i appreciate your views on this matter, this sort of language seems both petty and unnecessary.

pps. You appear to agree with me on point 4, which is marvellous. As with any debate on any subject, there are as many positions to hold as there are people on earth to hold them, and many will naturally overlap in certain respects. A publication of which i was the editor would happily incorporate both your vitriol and my irreverence; it seems, however, that your publication would be merely vitriolic.

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Steven.
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Nov 26 2005 14:40
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
2. Once again i reiterate, 'authority' sets the publication apart from the reader and turns it into a repressive instituiton, or at least it would be repressive if anybody actually read it. Authority. Anarchism. come on, you're making this too easy for me.

roll eyes

I agree with Lazlo:

Quote:
A newsletter or newspaper having a distinctive tone is no more 'authoritarian' than a band or record label having a distinctive sound.
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Rob Ray
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Nov 27 2005 15:48

If my writing is a little vitriolic it's because I get angry when uninformed people with an unsophisticated analysis of a subject start bollocking on as though they are the true standard bearer of liberty and no-one else has been clever enough to incorporate it.

On the subject of flaming:

Quote:
- Since you have presented your argument in such a delightful AS level sociology exam answer style

- it seems, however, that your publication would be merely vitriolic

Which, though truly elegant though they are as comments roll eyes, are still designed to be insulting, and technically libellous (as they would lower my standing in the eyes of right thinking members of society - don't worry, that's just the law knowledge subs use as part of their job, not something someone on your paper would need to know about, obviously, as it would be an infringement of their right to write whatever bollocks comes into their head - I'm sure they'd be thanking you all the way to bankruptcy should the zine in question attain any kind of large-scale readership).

On Point 2, you're still not understanding the nature of news, or its writers. Newspapers do not attempt to be 'the' authority on anything. They attempt to present what's going in on in an understandable manner, based on primary sources, for people to believe or disbelieve as they wish. The function of newspapers as summarisers of information means that obviously they cannot be the sole authoritative voice on anything (and afaik there is not a newspaper in the world bar the New York Times that claims this). What they can be is trustworthy enough in their reporting that should people want to find out more, they wouldn't be researching information that is far off what the paper said in the first place. That is what is meant by an authoritative voice - one which is, within the limits imposed by space and time, trustworthy.

Your view that anarchist papers will always be less informed than others is merely a function of a lack of ambition, not a realistic assessment of the overall potential of anarchist newspapers. My earlier comment, that we should, as far as possible, have a stable of expert anarchists on major subjects, is one possible tactic in remedying our current weakness in this regard. But having said that, it's not actually that difficult to be as well-researched as the majority of the major press even if it's three ppl and a dog writing it, as the major press, particularly in politics, works almost solely off the same material as we would - publicly available records and statistics, and tip-offs from members of the public. We also have the advantage that we don't have to sugar-coat, warp, omit or sensationalise in our copy - something we can do only if people consistently stick to those principles when writing their articles.

on point 4, continuity and trustworthiness can't be done without having people write in a similar (not exactly the same note, just similar) manner throughout the paper - otherwise people will dismiss it as amatuerish, which affects it trust levels and sense of continuity simultaneously. So no, we don't have the same view here.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 27 2005 17:03
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
You are right insofar as a target audience implies that a certain style of writing is needed, but, again, my point was that a target audience is not needed in an anarchist paper.

Why not? And you haven't answered my question -- if no consistent content, then why a consistent title for the newspaper?

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 27 2005 18:16

Ghost - I'm gonna assume you've never written for any sort of publication, ever. Cos anyone who has done will know that any publication, regardless of its style (or indeed lack thereof), subject matter, content or indeed seriousness has a target audience, intentional or not. To claim otherwise is to claim that black is white. I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to argue here, it seems like you're the one full of hyperbole about "authority". Do you think that organisation is authoritarian??

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 27 2005 19:23

Isn't GOTR a member of the AF? The AF has two publications that both have distinctive styles.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 11:56
Saii wrote:
on point 4, continuity and trustworthiness can't be done without having people write in a similar (not exactly the same note, just similar) manner throughout the paper - otherwise people will dismiss it as amatuerish, which affects it trust levels and sense of continuity simultaneously. So no, we don't have the same view here.

What if my target audience is people who aren't so simple-minded they can't deal with reading two different types of article in the same paper? Would ecclecticism be permitted then?

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Rob Ray
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Nov 28 2005 13:16

Jesus you still don't quite get this do you? I didn't say people are too stupid to read it, I said that given the choice between a paper with one coherent style and a raggedy mess, people are most likely to take the easy option - same as if you plonk em in the sea with a boat and say 'your choice, swim or take the boat'. Though this number won't include everyone, it does include most, and acts as an enormous, and pointless, handicap.

gurrier
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Nov 28 2005 13:37
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
Saii wrote:
on point 4, continuity and trustworthiness can't be done without having people write in a similar (not exactly the same note, just similar) manner throughout the paper - otherwise people will dismiss it as amatuerish, which affects it trust levels and sense of continuity simultaneously. So no, we don't have the same view here.

What if my target audience is people who aren't so simple-minded they can't deal with reading two different types of article in the same paper? Would ecclecticism be permitted then?

Let's say that the target audience of some of the articles was kindergarten childern, the target audience of others were punks into the hardcore scene and the target audience of others was anarchists with a deep theoretical grounding in anarchist theory. I'm sure you can see how these different audiences demand an entirely different style of writing and each has its own set of assumptions that the writer can make.

Don't you think that it makes sense not to mix these very different target audiences into the same publication?

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Nov 28 2005 14:06
gurrier wrote:
Don't you think that it makes sense not to mix these very different target audiences into the same publication?

You authowarian oppressor! angry

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Nov 28 2005 14:11
gurrier wrote:

Don't you think that it makes sense not to mix these very different target audiences into the same publication?

Yeah, there's fucking no way the punks would understand the stuff written for kindergarten children, for a start.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 14:25

Take the SI, filled with both ludicrously wordy and deep social analyses together with a bunch of cartoons saying essentially the same thing but in a much more comprehensible style. This is how you get people without a grounding in anarchist theory or whatever to actually start reading it, one thing gets people reading, another gives them something to read if they decide they're interested. I state unequivocably that this is my view and not necessarily the best method of producing a publication, but it seems to be much more sensible than picking a 'target audience' and then arbitrarily deciding what it is they want to read.

Oh and Alan_is_fucking_dead, who informs me that any publication has a target audience 'intentional or not', how the fuck can you have an unintentional target? Is that like throwing a rock into a crowd and then saying 'i meant to hit that guy'?

gurrier
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Nov 28 2005 14:35
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
Oh and Alan_is_fucking_dead, who informs me that any publication has a target audience 'intentional or not', how the fuck can you have an unintentional target? Is that like throwing a rock into a crowd and then saying 'i meant to hit that guy'?

Many an anarchist zine is written for a particular sub-cultural target audience although the authors / publishers are often not aware of this since they are part of this sub-culture and thus they are merely speaking their minds. However, to somebody who is not part of the sub-culture, the unintentional target audience is immediately apparent as the language and sub-cultural references will be alien to those from beyond the sub-culture.

To be honest, ghost, I think you are really arguing at cross purposes here and mixing up different things.

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 28 2005 15:30

Pretty much what Gurrier said.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 17:17
gurrier wrote:
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
Oh and Alan_is_fucking_dead, who informs me that any publication has a target audience 'intentional or not', how the fuck can you have an unintentional target? Is that like throwing a rock into a crowd and then saying 'i meant to hit that guy'?

Many an anarchist zine is written for a particular sub-cultural target audience although the authors / publishers are often not aware of this since they are part of this sub-culture and thus they are merely speaking their minds. However, to somebody who is not part of the sub-culture, the unintentional target audience is immediately apparent as the language and sub-cultural references will be alien to those from beyond the sub-culture.

But surely if you had no intention of reaching a particular audience, the the audience you actually get is less of a 'target audience' and more of an 'audience'. I think the distinction is important. While i agree that a writer will naturally attract readers of a simillar mindset, i find it hard to believe that other people will inevitably be shut out. Provided the author knows better than to write an entire article using only slang, in jokes and quotes from obscure kung fu movies he should be able to reach more than just the people he drinks with on a friday night.

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Steven.
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Nov 28 2005 17:48

I mean to me it seems pretty clear that what Ghost is saying doesn't make any sense.

I'd like to suggest taking this discussion out of the realms of the theoretical into reality. Ghost - if your inconsistency is a good thing, please point out examples of successful publications/websites (anarchist or otherwise) which match your ideas. I, and am sure others, will be happy to point at examples which back up our thoughts.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 18:18

I did on the bottom of page 3.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 18:21

Indymedia also springs to mind.

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Nov 28 2005 18:24
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
I did on the bottom of page 3.

What, one thing, the SI Journal? When the SI was about the most theoretically consistent and tight group like ever? That's not a good example at all. They had long articles, and cartoons. That's not inconsistent. They had the exactly the same kinda stuff every issue, no?

Maybe there's no disagreement here then really, and you're just presenting a straw man of other people who say that a publication should have a consistent style and tone?

(PS I'm sure you're not in the AF - are you??)

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Nov 28 2005 18:25
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
Indymedia also springs to mind.

That one at least does fit with your suggestions. And it's rubbish, and anything that might be good is always submerged by tons of shite!

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 18:38

you said successful, you didn't say good.

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Nov 28 2005 18:58
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
you said successful, you didn't say good.

I wouldn't say IMC UK is that successful, as such, cos I don't think it very effectively changes people's minds about anything (other than thinking that lefties are maybe a bit weirder than you first thought).

So isn't that a good argument against your position then? Incoherency, inconsistency, authors knowing little about their subjects, not internal agreement - all the stuff you've been arguing for.

gurrier
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Nov 28 2005 18:59
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Indymedia is fucking shit.

Indymedia Ireland is great! (disclosure of bias)

But then again we do hide an awful lot of stuff that would remain elsewhere on various grounds which does to some extent set a minimum level of 'house style'. We also have a fair few regular high-quality writers which does help to establish a sense of consistency.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 19:19
John. wrote:
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
you said successful, you didn't say good.

I wouldn't say IMC UK is that successful, as such, cos I don't think it very effectively changes people's minds about anything (other than thinking that lefties are maybe a bit weirder than you first thought).

So isn't that a good argument against your position then? Incoherency, inconsistency, authors knowing little about their subjects, not internal agreement - all the stuff you've been arguing for.

Did i ever argue for incoherency? or ignorant authors? I'm fairly certain I have been arguing for the opposite. All i ever suggested was that a publication could get by quite happily without defining a target audience or a 'house style', and in so doing would produce a less biased and, heaven forbid, more interesting view of the world; whilst transferring choices about what people do or don't want to read from the editors to the actual readers.

All this seems perfectly reasonable to me, but if everyone around here is going to insist on taking a bullet for traditional media practices i might as well go write some articles for our local anarchist newspaper, in the vague hope someone slightly more open-minded than you lot will read them.

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Nov 28 2005 19:25
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
Did i ever argue for incoherency? or ignorant authors?

You said that someone being an "authority" on something oppressed the readers.

Quote:
I'm fairly certain I have been arguing for the opposite. All i ever suggested was that a publication could get by quite happily without defining a target audience or a 'house style'

Re: the audience, do you really think it's sensible to spend a lot of time doing something without even thinking about who's reading it?

And as for not having a "house style", do you not think it's sensible to say, when you use the words "working class" mean the same thing every time you use it? Or if you talk about the AF referrering to it in the same way every time? Or is it best to just use bewildering politico jargon in all the myriad different ways people use it while your unknown audience scratches its head?

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and in so doing would produce a less biased

Less biased eh? Ha ha.

Quote:
All this seems perfectly reasonable to me, but if everyone around here is going to insist on taking a bullet for traditional media practices i might as well go write some articles for our local anarchist newspaper, in the vague hope someone slightly more open-minded than you lot will read them.

I can't believe I've entered this discussion actually. Talk about fucking brick walls...

gurrier
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Nov 28 2005 19:32
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
Did i ever argue for incoherency? or ignorant authors? I'm fairly certain I have been arguing for the opposite. All i ever suggested was that a publication could get by quite happily without defining a target audience or a 'house style', and in so doing would produce a less biased and, heaven forbid, more interesting view of the world; whilst transferring choices about what people do or don't want to read from the editors to the actual readers.

All this seems perfectly reasonable to me, but if everyone around here is going to insist on taking a bullet for traditional media practices i might as well go write some articles for our local anarchist newspaper, in the vague hope someone slightly more open-minded than you lot will read them.

Not having ignorant authors is a house style. If the 'house' doesn't insist upon such things as referencing of sources, accuracy of quotes, substantiation of claims, the publication will have plenty of ignorant authors as loads of people do submit stories without these details.

Making articles accessible to as broad a part of the public as possible is a house style and if it is not enforced, the publication will be full of convoluted and highly incomprehensible writing and little-known sub-cultural references. Believe me, if you have any experience of editing whatsoever you would know that many articles arrive in a terrible state and need to have basic comperhensibility added in.

Even making sure that your articles use correct punctuation and spelling is a house style.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Nov 28 2005 19:37
John wrote:
You said that someone being an "authority" on something oppressed the readers.
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
It is all to the good that an author is an authority on the subject he his writing about
John wrote:
Less biased eh? Ha ha.
John wrote:
I can't believe I've entered this discussion actually. Talk about fucking brick walls...
IrrationallyAngry
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Nov 28 2005 19:43
gurrier wrote:

Indymedia Ireland is great! (disclosure of bias)

But then again we do hide an awful lot of stuff that would remain elsewhere on various grounds which does to some extent set a minimum level of 'house style'. We also have a fair few regular high-quality writers which does help to establish a sense of consistency.

No, Indymedia Ireland isn't great. It's a whole load better than most other IMCs though and incomparably better than the dismal UK IMC for pretty much the reasons you point out. Its editors still need to let their itchy trigger fingers go to work a good deal more though. The gradual rise in editorial ruthlessness almost exactly parallels the gradual rise in quality.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 28 2005 20:04
Ghost_of_the_revolution wrote:
All i ever suggested was that a publication could get by quite happily without defining a target audience or a 'house style', and in so doing would produce a less biased and, heaven forbid, more interesting view of the world; whilst transferring choices about what people do or don't want to read from the editors to the actual readers.

Here you're assuming that there can be something that is 'less biased.' Mainstream newpapers pretend to be 'objective' and not 'biased', but every paper has a bias. The main thing is to work out whether you want to be biased towards the working class or not. 8)