FLEET STREET COCKS




So much for good journalism: Fleet Street Fox's anti-feminism just shows once again that tabloid journalists can't be trusted to provide good analysis




There is really nothing worse than an anonymous tabloid reporter. 

Had a bad day? Problems at home? Cut your own fringe while three sheets to the wind and regretting it? An anonymous tabloid reporter will simply make you feel worse. She'll tell you either that it was all your fault or that her day was MUCH more dramatic and make you feel bad for whining, and then she'll use your fringe anecdote in her next column.

Tell the same problems to a proper journalist and they generally listen, are at least faintly supportive and genuinely hadn't noticed you'd done anything to your hair.

An anonymous tabloid reporter will think it's all right to make crass generalisations about the female population. She will compete with you- whether you like it or not- to write the most provocative copy, she'll use one of your writers to forward her agenda, and be seen by herself as just better according to the unwritten set of rules that anonymous tabloid journalists carry around in their heads.

The New Statesman? Well, her mum's never heard of it. Founded in 1913 by members of the Fabian society? So what? Her twitter  has a bigger following. 

I know plenty of journalists who aren't like that, and who I don't feel are trying to raise my heckles with sexist generalisations. But as reasonable or sisterly as I try to be, there's always an instinct at the back of my brain which makes a note when anonymous tabloid journalists write anti-feminist crap.  I can't stop it and I don't understand the rules any more than you do.

But that's why we've got Fleet Street Fox and the New Statesman arguing over whether or not women are dicks. How grubby, how bitchy, how many new tips did the Fox pick up?

And on Friday our writer who hasn't shaved anything for 18 months went on This Morning to discuss it alongside a well-maintained woman with hair extensions and a fake tan. The groomed lady praised the self-confidence such a choice must have taken, while physically recoiling.

The ungroomed lady was pretty and extremely intelligent. She said: "If you're getting your self-esteem from your looks then it's not with you when you wake up in the morning, it's not with you as you get older... you have to remember you're a wonderful person and you're interesting."

And who passed comment about it? Anonymous tabloid reporter Fleet Street Fox, of course. And my was she bitchy.

Someone else's lack of writing ability doesn't affect my life in the least. But I too felt a little queasy when she showed off the paucity of her analysis, and I caught myself thinking that she wouldn't be able to get away with it if she weren't writing for the Mirror. 

So why do we care? Because WE'RE ALL PRETENDING, that's why.


We pretend that tabloid newspapers offer valid comment and analysis. We pretend that they know what they're talking about, that's they're all good journalists really, that everything is the Guardian's fault and that when tabloid journalists go to the toilet it's not to slimily listen in on the conversation of the Z-list reality TV star in the stall next door, it's to take a dump. 


We pretend to ourselves, and to other people, and to the world that tabloid journalists are not walking shitsacks undergoing a series of basic chemical processes. We pretend their points are valid.

And as soon as someone breaks the pact and admits that their hands are covered in blood and they are worse than the skid marks in the loo, we will round on them like hyenas on the weak member of the herd, because if everyone starts saying that the whole game will be up.

It's not going to change any time soon, because humans have been putting up with 'uncivilised' members of society since the days of Ancient Greece, and tabloid journalists have been our worst enemies since the year dot.



But can't we at least admit that it's a game? And that it's one we play only with bad journalists, using a scoresheet which is impossible to understand and for a prize no-one's ever managed to win? We all know what the journalist who pleased all of us would be like. She'd be utterly AWESOME. She'd be a six foot tall Suzanne Moore/Caitlin Moran mash-up with Polly Toynbee's debating skills and Marina Hyde's wit.

The truth is that the writing ability you're born with - no matter how lumpy or imperfect - is the greatest instrument you will ever own. It will carry you through life and in return you will exploit it dreadfully with crass generalisations and senseless bile. People will never think  it's are as good as you do and yet it'll going to still be with you when your minor fame and your book deal and your column inches disappear with old age.

The trouble with giving up a pretence is that you have to face the truth. And the truth is that the only reason you're not writing for a broadsheet is because you're so busy running other women down.

Foxy, don't you think there are enough people doing that to us already?