The Token White Boy responds


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25 thoughts on “The Token White Boy responds

  1. I agree, Matt may have been careless in his choice of words but the other guy had the choice of staying schtum. Should have done too imho, that way he would have avoided seeming defensive. Pissing contest and credential-waving not called for on the basis of what Matt actually said.

    Hey ho. Testosterone has a lot to answer for…

    Beddie

  2. It is a bit unfair to judge on something that was probably not intended at being made public … Lest we forget the internet tends to free people from restraint.

    Anyway I did enjoy the first instalments of The Lost Boy whom with I shared a Taxi with once but he won't remember (he was going out I was getting in… small world!). Newbies impressions of Thailand are funny at first but tends to get repetitive. Anyway I am sure some will appreciate this re-run of "white-Boy discover Thailand" (or pretend to be, if he has been visiting the country for 20 years)

  3. It's certainly been a weird experience for me replying on this blog and I can understand journalists getting tetchy with bloggers. Experienced journalists rely on their reputation to get work – we are also accountable to editors and publishers. If we make mistakes we can't get more work and our careers suffer. Those who write for the quality international press – and even the tabloid press – are far more accountable than all ex-pats here in Thailand writing for papers such as The Nation etc.
    Yet, bloggers are free to attack who they want, without any real evidence and refuse to even present the evidence they are relying on when requested. Bloggers are not accountable in any of the ways that experienced journalists are.
    In my postings here I've tried to keep things very straight forward and be very open. Yet, I've now started to receive weird implied threats and been, in an incredibly surreal moment, accused of 'stalking' someone.
    If bloggers want to be taken seriously – and there are some very successful bloggers out there – then take what you are doing seriously. Other journalists are supposed to be your colleagues – engage in discussion but be prepared to back up what you say. Not with third hand hearsay but with concrete documented evidence, interviews, tapes, notes etc.
    To be honest the blogs I've read in Thailand are missing an open goal – the English language press is becoming more and more of a joke and there is a huge gap for reliable, well-sourced English language news.

  4. Andrew, you've lost me. Firstly, this post is not directed toward you. It's about a post I made in which I said that someone's column looked similar to a column I used to write. And actually I still think that. The evidence I had was a copy of one of the columns, which I read.

    I'm not a career blogger. I don't know where you've got that idea from. I actually didn't personally attack anyone. And no, I have no tapes, notes or interviews proving that his column looks a bit like mine.

    Why are singling me out, here? I have apologized both privately and publicly for what I wrote and everything is fine. You're talking a lot about how "real" journalists do this and do that; well, I am trying to be as "real" as I can and am learning what I can in Thailand while studying so that I can then move on and work in another scene/country.

    You've really confused me here.

  5. Vanalli. Good on you for apologising publicly to Fenton. Not many bloggers have the balls to do this, and I hope your own reputation will be enhanced by it. Yes, you fucked up in not checking your facts first or calling him up for his response before you aired your displeasure. But then you are not a journalist. You are a blogger. There is a world of difference.

    But Spooner does have a point. You are most definitely a "career" blogger because you make money from it, even commenting on occassion on how you make money from your blog. If you make money from it, then it's a career…part-time of full.
    And you did indeed attack Fenton personally. A journalist's reputation is sacrosanct. The worst thing you can accuse a journalist of is plagiarism. Where this has happened in the past, it invariably has ruined their reputation. Now you can pussyfoot around it with all sorts of semantics, but at the end of the day this journalist's reputation was called into question by your blog. If this isn't "personal" then I don't know what is??

  6. I disagree. I work for a newspaper. I don't work as a blogger. Just because I make money from it does not make it my career — and how can you have a part-time career?

    And I maintain that his column is similar to the one I wrote. And when did I accuse anyone of plagiarism? Gosh.

  7. Perky, he had to apologize to Mr. Renton. He was being arrogant and boastful without grounds (mostly out of feeling threatened, his position of young, hip, white writer in Thailand being encroached upon by another, I would guess… though this is PURE conjecture, of course), and Mr. Renton called him out on it quite eloquently and accurately. His choice was to apologize or to hide in the corner with his tail between his legs. He likely realized (accurately) that of the two options, apologizing would at least allow him to maintain some degree of credibility or face, as it poses him as 'the bigger person, able to admit his own mistakes and move on with a gentlemanly handshake' (you know, 'that guy').

    Regarding elephants, soi dogs, and anything else initially interesting but later so remarkably un-noteworthy as to become cliche, perhaps the lending of significance to things mundane, the keen observations of the world around us, should be left to those truly groundbreaking writers, while the (remarkably skilled) Salieris of the writing world world can use their talents in other ways.

    Lastly, with regards to Guru… I don't know why you guys are making a fuss about that publication at all. Seriously, have you actually read it? The few times I tried, I found myself hard-pressed to get through a copy, overcome by embarrassment for the people who put it together. It's like going to see an acquaintance's off-off-Broadway one-man show, only to realize ten minutes into it that it's going to be a three hour work of childish cliches, somehow with the arrogance of misconception that what's happening is original. With every hackneyed observation that falls off the stage/page, one looks awkwardly away, as if avoiding eye-contact with the person responsible. It's the kind of publication one writes pseudonymously for with good reason. Boys, just be glad you're both "boys" on those pages. You don't want an editor at the New Yorker finding a copy with your name on it while he's reviewing your CV.

  8. Regarding Adam Renton, I am surprised that he works for a magazine he did not even read the previous issues before: "I’d never read your work until it was pointed out to me that you were spouting off about me on the Internet."
    I would try and find out what the magazine is about before accepting a position.

    Regarding Spooner, I don't understand why he overreacts to a criticism that The Lost Boy is free to write.

    Looks like the paper "journalists" still think they're untouchable… Long live the unresponsible and unexperimented "blog professional journalists"! :)

  9. 1) You earn income from this blog, have been doing so for a while, and have so far not mentioned any plan to stop. It's a career.
    2) You can have a part-time career, just like the countless part-time or "flexible hours" workers throughout the world who choose to have one. I employ quite a few, and all of them count their wonderful contributions as a career. I certainly hope so, because they're all going places if I have anything to do with it. I work part-time. But then you could say I've worked long and hard enough in my life to have earned that right. But it remains my career, whether I choose to go in for 2 hours or 12. (I'd love to have a second career as a pain in the arse, but I don't think there's any money in it.)
    There are even more untold numbers of workers worlwide who work at several careers to make ends meet. I know one incredible lady who runs a flower shop, works as a translator for a foreign embassy, and also puts in several hours a week working for me in media relations. She is also what I would call a full-time mum. Try telling her she has "no career" and I'll personally pound you into the pavement.
    3) If you do work for a newspaper as a second career then one would have hoped that some of the principles of good journalism would have rubbed off. Like checking, checking and checking again your facts, and removing yourself as the subject of your material. Until then, this is just a blog.
    4) As I said, you can pussyfoot around the matter with semantics all you like, but by your actions you caused the integrity of the journalist to be called into question. You deliberately inferred that the journalist was copying your work, even calling him "Lost Boy V2". I'll let these facts scream loudly for themselves.
    5) Look, it's not all bad. You ate shit and apologized. There's plenty to be said for that. I know a few "good journalists" who wouldn't. Dunno if I would…

  10. I wasn't feeling threatened at all. We're not even in the same city. I read his column after it was pointed out to me by other people that it was similar to one I wrote for a year. I commented that I thought it was similar also! I actually said that I was probably being unfair to Adam because I'd only read one column.

    But anyway, yeah, I f-cked up, I just wrote what I was thinking. I didn't apply the same basis for my blog post as I would a news story and that's all there is to it.

  11. If you do work for a newspaper as a second career then one would have hoped that some of the principles of good journalism would have rubbed off. Like checking, checking and checking again your facts, and removing yourself as the subject of your material. Until then, this is just a blog.

    This is just a blog. I don't try and mask it as anything else. Why should I remove myself from a personal blog, which I often write my own opinions on? This blog and my work for the newspaper are not one and the same. I spend up to 12 hours a day following strict guidelines, so there are times when I blog late at night and just write what's on my mind. Most of my blogging is done after midnight.

    You deliberately inferred that the journalist was copying your work, even calling him “Lost Boy V2″.

    Yes, and, as I said, I maintain that the column is similar to the one I wrote. I didn't say he copied me. "Lost Boy V2" was a flippant remark. It wasn't intended with any malice.

    Anyway, I see what you're saying and this whole thing has been a real downer. I've squared things up with Adam and will see him next time I'm in Bangkok. I don't think there needs to be anything else said here.

  12. Adam's surname has been removed from both posts (not comments) because this debacle now shows up on Google's first page when searching for his name.

  13. I was feeling gloomy one day when I saw the Lost Boy column in Guru for the first time. I will never forget how Matt put a smile on my face that day. From that day forward, I read Guru magazine religiously.

    I was shocked to learn recently that Matt had not even been paid for so many fine contributions. In another post Matt wrote: "I was paid 2,000 baht an article for three or four features, but after that I didn’t get paid. I was also never employed by Guru, as some people assume. So yes, I wrote 55 columns and a dozen other features for free."

    Matt created something unique and special for the magazine, put so much of himself into that column. It's Guru's loss that it did not value Matt's contributions as much as readers like me did.

    Guru may think the boy it lost was just another token white boy, but not a former reader like me.

  14. Hmmm I also saw Matts column in Guru, I recall he did an article on security men sleepig on the job and maniac car drivers. It made me laugh at a time when I was feeling desperately bloody about Thais, but I have to say the remainder of the rag truly sucked. Then I read another edition almost by accident in a hospital waiting room and marvelled that it appeared to be even more of a suckfest. Incomprehensible how but it managed it. Then today I saw a copy in Starbucks. Picked it up and lo! it fell open at the Token White Boy page. usual culture clash shite with lots of information like how it is hard to get a haircut in BKK. harder still to get a life if this guy is anything to go by.

    Conclusion: Guru sucks. A wannabe hi-so bunch of guys and a backpacker newcomer. But not all because it is soft yet tough and highly absorbent so it does come in handy… Matt, don't feel offsided by anyone who writes for Guru; your blog content may suck from time to time but to see what truly sucking ass is, you really do need to pick up Guru.

    Beddie

  15. Matt, my comments weren't aimed at you but were a general comment. Sorry if they appeared that way. I've been getting weird emails from another well-known blogger (Stephen Cleary) who is making strange implied threats to me.

    Did you also read his op-ed piece in The Nation where he claimed that the shot Canadian woman in Pai was a known drunk and had it coming? Given how eye-witnesses have since called the shooting, Cleary's column is certainly eyebrow raising.

    And I guess that makes my point for me. With the competition in the English language press so abysmal, a good blog, produced with well-researched material and where more professional standards are applied would be a godsend to all. Remember that the best op-ed writers still do their research….

  16. Jase – my sentiments exactly. Guru is the biggest waste of paper since inserts were introduced into newspapers. I actually cancelled my Bangkok Post subscription because I was fed-up with receiving Guru every Friday. The Lost Boy column was the only thing worth a browse in there.
    I won't read the Nation on principle because of it allows people like "would-be" journo Stephen Cleary column space. Hence I use the internet for my news in Thailand.
    Matt you sure know how to whip up a storm!

  17. On a lighter note there is the old story about the journalist who tells his mum that he is a piano player in a brothel.

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