Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Guardian journalist knees editor Alan Rusbridger in the groin – all part of the culture of News

That living embodiment of the left-liberal politico-media establishment, Alan Rusbridger, has been writing about his attempts to learn to play Chopin’s Ballade No. 1, Op 23. As the Telegraph reported this morning (I’d link to it, but I can’t find it on the paper’s website), this resulted in an  outbreak of splendidly vicious snarkiness from one of Rusbridger’s journos, in the form of an online comment . The comment, needless to say, has subsequently been removed:

It’s a tough time for your journalists at the moment. We’re badly mismanaged, and trying to cope with the life-changing threat of compulsory redundancies – all a result of the company’s long-term financial illiteracy and lavish excess at the top. 
So I just want to say thanks for the series of articles – three now, isn’t it? – about learning to play your Fazioli piano. They’re brilliantly timed, and I know they’ll lift spirits. We always wondered how you filled your days, how you spent your fortune. Now we know.
Ah, the authentic voice of the poor bloody infantry. Followed by the authentic response of freedom-loving lefties to criticism.

I spent over a decade in TV news and current affairs, and the only thing I genuinely missed about it after I’d decamped to another department was the pleasure of hearing journalists moaning about management, interviewees, press officers, technical staff, their salary, the weather – and, of course, their fellow-journalists.

But I suspect Rusbridger won’t mind that much: it’s just so much part of the culture of news. I remember during my second week at BBC News walking down one of those endless circular corridors at TV Centre late one evening. Their lay-out meant you couldn't see further than about twenty feet ahead. I was lost for about the tenth time in as many days, and the whole of the BBC seemed to have gone home, so I couldn’t ask for directions back to the newsroom. I was therefore initially delighted to hear the voice of the enormously experienced correspondent I’d been assigned to work with. He was chatting to someone (they were still out of sight), slagging off a colleague: “…couldn’t even find the place. Totally fucking useless!”

I halted in my tracks and held my breath, not wanting to reveal my presence. Because I’d realised that the idiot he was talking about was me. All the doubts I'd had about taking the job resurfaced in a rush : I was too old, too slow-witted, I had no journalistic background, I was way out of my depth...

“Still,“ the correspondent added gloomily, “he’s all right, I suppose. He’ll do.”

One of the proudest moments of my life.

And, by way of thanks, I spent the next six months slagging him off at every opportunity.


  1. Please lay off Alan Rubbisher. He was poorly educated, has hid behind a supercilious smirk for decades and has driven a major newsaper into extinction.

  2. Sorry. Meant to say "... and is trying to drive a major newspaper into extinction".

    Anyway, I was listening to Radio 3 yesterday and at 10.30 am up pops Rubbisher for a free 30-minute advertorial for his new book. Like Yentob, the man seems entirely devoid of humour. Apart from the Chopin piece he selected three "Cabaret Songs" by William Balcombe [me neither]. Even though I was alone I cringed at the sheer ghastliness of this music - it was on a par with "Mr Bojangles", "Food, glorious food" and "If I ruled the world".