Motes and Beams
The Chief God-Botherer, Rowan Williams, has broken his customary silence to attack the media. There's much wrong with the media but the bearded one might do better to forget about the messenger and do something about some of the messages that issue from his own church. The redemptive power of hatred, and all that. Or is it the redemptive power of love? You could have fooled me.
Or if he wants to contribute his two penn'orth, or forty pieces of silver, to public debate he could have said a liitle more about the slaughter of the innocents in Iraq - by all three of them, Saddam, George and Tony.
You may remember that he did a Today interview with John Humphreys in which Iraq was off limits. Humphreys ignored this and asked him about it. Williams expressed some mild criticism of the war. Then the producer cut that part of the interview and Humphreys went ballistic and listeners heard him shouting in the background just after the recorded interview ended. Williams then said he didn't mind being asked about the war. So, if I remember correctly, after this strange pantomime we learned indirectly that Williams found the war 'difficult to justify', or similar mealy-mouthed words.
While 100,000 corpses in Iraq produced this tepid reaction, the failings of the western media get the bardic one in a right old bait. His opaque prose makes it difficult to work out exactly what he's saying. Until he gets to the internet. Then he really lets rip in plain English. ".........Unwelcome truth and prompt rebuttal are characteristic; as are paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry."
'Fantasy', 'nonsense' and 'dangerous bigotry'? Motes and beams, my dear Archbishop. Not to mention 'pots' and 'kettles'.
He is here talking about 'internet journalism'. Quite what he means by that I'm not sure. Most of the journalism on the internet is print journalism recycled through the major newspaper sites. Maybe he means blogging, assuming he knows what that is. Certainly a lot of blogging is a form of journalism but without the commercial, editorial or proprietorial pressures. What's this post if not an 'opinion piece'? And the freedom and democracy of the internet means that whilst our press is overwhelmingly right of centre, left-wing bloggers like myself can correct the balance slightly even if individually our readers are only in the hundreds.
The other feature of journalism through blogging that Williams should welcome is that the comment system gives instant feedback and a conversation betwen author and readers. It's difficult for the traditional media to do this because the numbers involved are too great. The few times I've emailed Guardian writers they've always sent brief replies but some of their columns provoke hundreds of emails and they couldn't possibly engage in a debate with so many people.
It's probably absurd to expect the head of an essentially authoritarian organisation to welcome a mostly unregulated medium like the internet.
And he seems blind to the rich irony of much that he says. Like criticising journalists for being part of an 'elite'. To which non-elite group does this resident of Lambeth Palace and member of the House of Lords think he belongs for God's sake?