Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Quality

Suddenly, like a revelation, you recognise a different society existing within your own country. The comic section of this week’s TLS gave me an early Christmas present. Its writer having some fun at the Guardian’s expense, knocking the Equal Opportunity monitoring forms that have been sent to their contributors.

"Where once you were judged by your writing, you must now expect genetics to be taken into account."

Very good; but like most weak comedy missing the point. In the public sector monitoring diversity, to ensure there is no institutional discrimination, has been around for decades. However, it seems unknown at the TLS, and may be an innovation at the Guardian, if our reviewer is to be believed. How behind the times! They will be telling us next that their only write with quill pens… What a strange place the press is. It is a little world all by itself; a sort of Monte Carlo on the River Thames. A fantasy world, free of the all the constraints, and social justice, that makes life liveable for the rest of us.

Behind this quote there is an interesting assumption: that entry into the media is determined by quality alone (until now, of course, when everything changes). But this is surely not the case. Compare the quality of most of the journalists with the work of writers who never appear in the mainstream press. Think about Nick Davis’ Churnalism. For isn’t there another form of discrimination that is never mentioned? Opinion. That there is a certain conventional wisdom that you cannot stray too far beyond, too often; otherwise you are out.

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