Blogger lynched by Guardian readers

Thanks to Roger for pointing me in the direction of this one. Even more interesting than The Lost Boy Vs The Token White Boy, this week saw Max Gogarty Vs The World. Who is Max Gogarty, you might ask? He’s a 19-year-old chap from London who occasionally writes for the UK TV show Skins (I’ve never watched it). Max landed a gig blogging for the Guardian about his gap-year trip to India and Thailand.

Max is a typical middle-class kid who aced his A-levels and has taken a gap year to do the Asian thing. It took just a few hours for his first blog post to descend into farce. Writing about preparing for his trip, Max attracted the scorn of hundreds of Guardian readers. Comments were closed as they reached 475.

So what was it about Max’s blog post that angered people so much. Firstly, there was some controversy about Max’s father, Paul Gogarty, who has in the past been a freelance writer for the Guardian. Commenters were quick to accuse the Guardian of nepotism. Then there was Max’s post itself. Here are a few excerpts:

I'm kinda shitting myself about travelling. Well not so much the travelling part. It's India that scares me. The heat, the roads, the snakes, Australian travellers. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. But shitting myself. And I just know that when I step off that plane and into the maelstrom of Mumbai – well, actually, I don't know how I'll react.

I'm not entirely sure what appeals to me about travelling. Maybe the lack of work or study? The mayhem? The imagined company of beautiful girls … all very good reasons to travel. And whether I'm right or not, I'm pretty sure it'll be a world away from cowering under an umbrella at the 134 bus stop.

To be fair to Max, he didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t deserve the torrent of abuse that was hurled at him. However, I think the Guardian made a mistake in commissioning the blog in the first place. It’s hard to judge the blog now that it’s received so much negative coverage, but the blog was mundane from the offset.

As for Max’s father getting Max the gig: that was dismissed by the travel editor of the Guardian, who said:

No one snuck Max through the backdoor. I called him purely on the strength of his track record. On the back of his writing at his comprehensive school, he was invited on to a young writers' group at the Royal Court theatre, and since then he has worked as an occasional writer on the TV series Skins. I think that's pretty impressive for a 19-year-old.

Max will be in Thailand soon so maybe some of us will get to meet him. I'm usually not a fan of "gappers", but might make an exception in this case.

Thoughts, anyone?

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9 thoughts on “Blogger lynched by Guardian readers

  1. I don't like liking Skins, but I do (or did, the second series seems to overemphasize emotive character development over non-preechy Shameless like stories).

    However, that the guy is 19 and is generating this much publicity is on the same level as celebrity bin investigations. First of all, it's the Guardian – so could you really expect much better? Secondly, a yoof with a big voice in print with no life experience outside the beehive is going to be a bit of a sham. I have to wonder why he would really want a guardian blog other than to draw huge amounts of attention to himself. How can anyone think "wow, love attention seekers void of content"? In this respect "journalism is nothing but canned chatter." I couldn't give a damn.

    What differentiates this blog is that it is built on a solid foundation of non-pretense and that there is an element of geniality, despite the recent spate of antagonism round the kitchen table where everyone has had turns at airing their disapproval. It has not become a cliche despite Token White Boy's, Find your Thai Bride google-ads and so on because the words have never seemed conscious of it. Whereas, Max Gogarty is a cliche from the offset.

    What is Matt? What is Max? It is good that there appears to be a great difference.

  2. Pushy little bugger isn't he….bound to make a few people jealous. On the other hand if he can write good luck to him. Oh to be 19 and well connected.

  3. I've lectured in journalism for a year at a major new university in London. We had the most polyglot and diverse student body in the UK. Most were defined as 'non-traditional' students – this means non-white, non-middle class. Some of them were also incredibly talented yet had none of the usual access to the media as say, a son of a well-established writer, such as Max Gogarty, might.

    Now, we approached nearly every paper in London to see if they'd take our students – the best were the Murdoch papers (several ex-students now work for The Times, The Sun etc), though The Independent and Daily Mirror were receptive too. The worst? The Guardian and Observer – they didn't even respond.

    The Guardian/Observer is owned by the Scott Trust – their supposed values are –

    * honesty
    * cleanness (today interpreted as integrity)
    * courage
    * fairness
    * a sense of duty to the reader and the community

    The Guardian/Observer's avowed editorial line is also one of social progress – an equality of opportunity for all.

    Yet, in this instance, this clearly didn't happen. I've nothing against them publishing the thoughts of any 19year old – my questions would be – are they any good? How many other 19year olds did you consider? Was this an open and fair (social progressive) recruitment process?

    Quite clearly that wasn't the case.

    And it is arguably in breach of The Scott Trust's own values.

    The Guardian readership know this and the nepotism that infects the media (The Guardian is no worse or better than anywhere else) was exposed.

    It's just that the readers expect more of The Guardian – when its true nature is revealed they become, quite rightly, annoyed.

    I read the Max Gogarty blog and it was awful, cliched, trite etc. Whether he deserved the flak he got is contentious. He was certainly an easy target and one, it seems, The Guardian editorial (who should've been the real target) hid behind.

  4. Andrew Spooner – You mention the Sun and the Times in the same breath. In your time lecturing journalism in a 'new London University', did you explain to your students that being a Kelvin MacKenzie is not the same as being a Gideon Rachman??

    Also, why do you keep maintaining demographic partisanship in promoting supposedly pluralistic ideals? To me, it more reads that you need whitey to be 'accepting' instead of actually reflecting on any kind of liberal value that you purport to have.

    All together now: "WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING!" *lets off a fire cracker*

  5. from the Guardian

    maxdad

    Comment No. 943306
    February 15 12:07

    As Andy Pietrasik's blog hasn't mentioned the fact Max won't be writing any more blogs, I thought I'd bring all those heroic internet warriors the good news. Max's trip (which he paid for himself I'm afraid – sorry) has got off to the worst possible start and he's feeling pretty grim so that's double good news for the brave warriors. You may like or dislike the blog but the cruelty is shocking if quintessentially British. Obviously everyone in his family is very hurt for Max so that's a bonus. I won't be reading any more smug clever dick comments but feel free to kick me around the field a bit now – just please leave Max alone. He hasn't actually done anything wrong and you have your wish – he won't be writing any further blogs.

  6. Grasshopper – I mention The Times and The Sun in the same breath cos they are both owned by the same company – Murdoch's News International.

    Of course you can't compare editors and I am certainly no fan of MacKenzie. However, students decide where they want to go, not me, and The Sun is very open to anyone with talent and who wants to work hard. A grounding there can lead to a very good career.

    Contrary to popular belief some of the sharpest, brightest (and most ruthless) journos work on the tabs – they are mostly drawn from regional papers. These are the type of professionals who put Jeffery Archer inside (The News of the World got that scoop) when everyone else was running scared of him. Most of the Guardian's newsroom is drawn from Oxbridge, privately educated types.

    These are the demographic realities.

    Your other point is a mystery to me but I'll spoon-feed you a response.

    My job was to help my students, who were mostly drawn from disadvantaged backgrounds. And yes, that meant being partisan and promoting them and their interests. That was the whole point!

    I raised the issue of the Scott Trust because it purports to liberal ideals that are supposed to provide the foundations of The Guardian's editorial. These ideals are why people buy The Guardian, hence the readers vociferous reaction to an open case of nepotism.

    I, however, am not a liberal.

  7. I thought nepotism was an accepted part of the British press/media, or any press for that matter. John Sargeant and his son, Alex Garland and his father, Boris and Rachel Johnson, Giles and Alan Coren, Peter and Dan Snow, and on and on it goes. Not to mention young Parker-Bowles and his cushy gig, and that bloody ghastly Peaches Geldoff. You might not be able to choose your relatives but it helps to have connected ones.

  8. he's white, he's middle class, he can't write, he has a penchant for cliches, and he's coming to Thailand. Max, if you're reading this, get in touch with 'Guru'

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