No more ‘no comment’
By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON
I read a column recently – in the Racing Post, if you must know – in which the writer lamented: “as time and columns pass it gets increasingly difficult to remember what you’ve written before.” As you may have noticed, bloggers can be similarly afflicted. Cut from the same cloth as columnists, they too have a tendency to blather on (and on) about what they have written so often before.
They tend to be driven by the assumption that the subject of their fixation – yes, it can be a single one! – Is equally all-consuming for their readers. It fuels a need to share an unshakeable conviction that they, and they alone, hold the key. “Blinkered” doesn’t come close. But then that is the nature of the beast; making a worthwhile contribution is not really what they’re about – it has to be more decisive than that. I should add that I am sufficiently self-aware to know that I share some characteristics with the ne’er-do-wells referred to in the opening paragraphs. Recognising you’re a sinner is, I believe, half way to repentance.
It’s a shame these pitifully few voices seem to be the only sources of independent comment in the care sector press. Don’t readers’ opinions count? Not to be trusted, maybe? A risk of disputatious incontinence, perhaps? Whatever the case, they’re about as welcome as a molehill on Centre Court.
Yet you’d think editors would want to encourage readers to cultivate a sense of “ownership” in the publications; being able to comment on what matters most to them would be one way. After all, the copy would have the priceless advantage of being free. Income-generating advertisements and their illegitimate offspring, stomach-turning advertorials will always take precedence in a beleaguered print media. But why is the website – surely, the optimum forum for spontaneous cut and thrust – still a veritable desert? It’s not for want of published material, and not only opinion pieces – articles and news reports that could be illuminated by input from readers, by questions that need to be answered, but haven’t been asked – are all in lockdown. Why so?
Have you ever read something and thought: hang on a minute … but been unable to do more than scribble in the margins (be they actual or figurative)? Wouldn’t other providers value commentary from their peers, feel stimulated by it? Debating with the writer would be even better, provided scribes don’t lose their bottle, of course. (Shouldn’t a willingness to engage in public debate be a condition of publication?).
Obviously, such an interactive community – the written equivalent of the phone-in – would have to be nurtured, given dedicated space in which to grow. Only dreamers would expect it to bring the powerful to heel, but it would offer people on the front line (particularly smaller-scale operators, many of them among the “just managing” part of the sector) a rare opportunity to use the megaphone that has long been hogged by the great and the good.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.