Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Opinion So To Speak

So I am writing about Andy Blume now for some reason. Well, for a particular reason, obviously. But anyway I am.

I don't like Andy Blume. I don't think he's funny. I think he's nasty. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't like me. But I decided to write about him because I have an opinion and I thought it was right for me to voice it, because I can't make a claim to integrity if I restrict my protests about unfairness to people I like.

Like I said, I don't like him. I hardly think the fruits of his creative desires have been a net improvement for the internet. But...

But the guy's lost his job. That story I linked to says "sacked for offensive web postings", but that's actually, I think it's pretty obvious, untrue. He wasn't sacked for offensive web postings. He was sacked because the Herald Sun ran a campaign against him. With prominent stories, and photos, and editorials calling for his dismissal.

And no matter what I think of Andy Blume and his postings, I just can't see that this is right. I can't see that the comedic web activities of a tram driver, however tasteless, are deserving of the sack, and more particularly I can't see they're deserving of tabloid persecution. It's not right.

And I'm not going on an anti-Herald Sun rant. Everyone knows I'm not a big fan of certain of their columnists, but there are also people working at the paper, and elsewhere in News Ltd, who I know, and like, and respect. I'm not looking to tear the Herald Sun to shreds.

But this is bad behaviour. This is not news. This is not reportage. This is a vendetta. This is someone at a powerful media organisation deciding a powerless individual has got on their bad side and needs to be punished. Not by alerting his employer to inappropriate behaviour. And certainly not by baldly reporting the facts - the facts, as they stand, aren't even close to being worthy of being placed in the pages of a capital city daily newspaper.

The punishment, instead, is that this man must lose his job. Not just lose his job, but be humiliated, become a figure of public hatred, and have the circumstances that led to his sacking placed in the mass media to sit there forever as a warning to future employers that this man is a Public Enemy Of Dubious Character. The punishment, in essence, is to ruin the guy's life. And it's not right.

Think about what Andy Blume did. Some think he's hilarious. Some think he's appalling. But on either extreme, does anyone really think he deserved this? This campaign of revenge and personal destruction? Is this what the media's for?

It shouldn't be. This is not the way the media should be working, this deformed journalism that sees the press's role not to serve public interest, not to seek the truth, not even to inform, educate or entertain, but to pursue and crush anyone who finds themselves on your wrong side with all the power at your disposal, without mercy, and with the most devastating and vicious consequences possible for those unfortunates who find themselves in that position. It is news as weapon. It is the reporter as assassin. It is the media as Inquisition. And it is a debasement of what could be, should be, and can be, I believe, a genuinely noble profession.

I don't like Andy Blume. But I've never disliked anyone enough to want to take away his job. I've never disliked anyone enough to want to destroy his life. It's not right. The Herald Sun is capable of being better than that, and it should be. It must be.


Anonymous said...

I've been working in the tram industry as a tram fancier and a so-called tram driver for many years and I've never read such an anti-tram hateful screed. Mr pobjie you should think about the livelihoods of millions of tram drivers who lust for naught but keeping you on time and on rails so you can achieve your obviously immoral schedule.

Shame on you.

Shame on this post. Shame on the english language.

Anonymous said...

Herald Sun vendetta indeed. Surely there was quite a few folks in YT who knew about it. And quite rightly, unless one sprouts dribble that directly ruins the image of said company, who cares??

Denis Wright said...

I’m struggling to understand the ‘Anonymous’ comment. Is it a wind-up? Is it possible to misread Mr Pobjie’s intent so wildly?

I don't get it. What does Anonymous think the article is defending?

Anonymous said...

Maybe now people will learn not to a) post about their job under their real name and b) take notice of a final warning when it is offered instead of writing the longest career suicide note in history.

Anonymous said...

Hi Denis, it was probably Andy Blume

Denis Wright said...

Thanks, Frank. Clearly it's time for me to vacate the premises, given than Andy Blume was nothing but a name to me until I read Ben Pobjie's piece. OK, I respect Ben and I thought he made a fair and generous point about what the Press's role isn't and what shouldn't cost someone their job. Beyond that, it's obvious I have no place in this curious dialogue.

Kitty said...

Well done, Ben. Couldn't have put it better myself. But, I'm going to attempt to anyway, because I'm foolish like that.

Alex said...

A good thing the HS lets us comment on the important stuff.

paul.robert.mcelwee said...

It's becoming increasingly obvious that a number of the News publications see their role not as reporting the news but to pass judgement on what is right & wrong, "educate" their readers on what and how to think and to effect changes in law, society and policy. And this new activist role isn't limited to the tabloids such as the Hun and Terrorgraph but even their "serious" flagship The Oz ("The Greens must be destroyed" anyone?) And while I can sympathise with this train driver - even though he was obviously being a bit of a knob - I'm more concerned with the distorion of democracy caused by a press that selectively reports, misleads and actively lies. The most concerning thing is that so much of the populace believe every word as gospel.

kath Grant said...

I think you're being a little bit picky Ben.

Men and women with no morals or integrity destroying other men and women for fame and money. What could be wrong with that?