One long subtweet: My nemesis in journalism not named but certainly shamed

... and no, I won’t be DMing you the name.


I believe in having a nemesis. An ordinary list of enemies is fine and can provide good fuel for success, but a nemesis — a true enmity for the ages, however petty — is more like nuclear power, flip the switch and it glows with ire, intriguing like the mysterious briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

My nemesis and I have never met in person, which is a suitably socially distanced approach to hating each other, but MN is a journalist just like me… well, not just like me since MN has such a large sense of entitlement that they could float it down the Thames on a barge like Michael Jackson did with that huge statue of himself.

MN and I despise each other largely because we believe in two very different schools of journalism. I come from the troublemaking, shit-stirring wing of the trade. I believe that you should challenge bullshit wherever you encounter it, be it in politics, business or even, heaven forfend, in the media itself MN is about access and deference to those who might get them more work, and has never punched up in their life. They suck up to editors as if Henry the Hoover had got the NCTJ.

MN is the sort of journalist who butters PR people up so much that you’d worry about them slipping and breaking their necks when they tackle stairs. MN is a self-promoter — all journalists are; I write my own newsletter FFS — but does it to such a level that rappers with coats rattling with mixtapes would tell them to chill out a bit.

All of that put to one side, however, I have three reasons for disliking MN which are simply a microcosm of what I hate about modern journalism in general:

  • MN thinks they are entitled to access to sources and impatiently tweets about people not getting back to them quick enough. No journalist is entitled to the time of a source or interviewee. It is horrifically twattish to imply that your time is more important than say an academic or a senior civil service. You nourish sources as a journalist and if you treat them like crap, the garden soon withers.

  • MN is an opportunist. Again, all journalists are opportunistic — you need to get work after all — but they roll their eyes about people on Twitter becoming instant experts while putting themselves up as a commentator on every possible story. This is a tremendously anti-solidarity attitude. I pass on opportunities to other journalists when I know that they are better placed to speak. That’s how we’ll finally break the hold that white blokes have on broadcast discussions.

  • MN pantomimes being a journalist and pretends that it’s all terribly tricky. MN loves all the jargon of journalism and even uses their own awful neologisms such as “scooplet”. A scoop is a scoop and involves getting hold of information that someone doesn’t want you to reveal. Getting information early from a company source is a briefing if what you receive simply furthers their interests. There is no such thing as “a scooplet”. When MN says that they simply mean they have found an interesting fact, which is a little like a builder being proud of securing a brick

I don’t really know the MN beyond social media posturing so I can’t say I truly hate them; it’s merely useful to have someone against whom I can place myself in opposition. When I achieve things, knowing that the MN will hate it is like a delicious cherry on top. When the MN publishes things, I’m rarely annoyed as they simply do not write many stories that I have any interest in pursuing.

So, what’s my Sesame Street-style advice? Consider having a nemesis, but hold that enmity lightly. And don’t bother arguing with them in public, they enjoy it too much.

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