Thursday, 21 March 2013

They look after their own

    What a lovely morning, I wake up to an email from the press complaints commission with their judgement on that Julie Burchill Observer piece.
    Tl;dr: the PCC feels none of their rules were broken. Unsurprising really, on several levels. As an organisation they are famous for their uselessness, and this is simply a last gasp of incompetence from an organisation in its final hours.
    There's also a nasty whiff about it. It's a tired refrain and often the last resort of scoundrels: "If you said that about (insert politically correct minority here) you'd be locked up, why do you think you can say it about me?", but it contains some truth. Had Burchill penned a piece targeting some groups other than transgender people, would she have had such an easy ride?
    Above all though there is a sense of the Press establishment looking after one of their own. The reason Burchill's piece was published in the first place is that she had reached the point of being beyond reproach, as one of the grandees of journalism the editors did not apparently subject her work to the same scrutiny they would have given to a less prominent writer. I can't quite shake the feeling that the PCC have something of the same about them, and that conclusion does not reflect well on them.
    Before we get too upset about the PCC it is however very important to understand that their decision is irrelevant. The fuss that surrounded the publication of the piece was a watershed moment. Pre-Burchill the Guardian/Observer group and other so-called quality newspapers would happily publish hate speech from radical feminists like her because they followed the logic that "she's a Feminist, she must be OK", now those days are firmly over. They have lost an unquestioning mouthpiece for their more toxic views, and the world is a better place for it.


  1. Not sure that this is quite right.
    Julie Burchill was really in the last chance saloon with the Observer - she's been pretty much shunned by other nationals after other problematic episodes.
    And there were also the stories that her first draft was more anodyne and it was at the specific request from the Observer to 'spice it up' that some of the nastier material went in.
    Totally agree with your conclusions though : it really could be a meaningful watershed in trans media coverage.

  2. I got the same email from them and couldn't believe that none of the reasons that people complained were upheld.
    Sadly I think it will take something tragic to happen and for the person responsible for the act to turn around and say "oh yes, I did it because I read a piece by A N Other in newspaper xyz" before anything will really be done.
    Hopefully though it wont come to that and this will indeed be a turning point in the coverage of tran* in the media.

  3. No doubt you will have heard by now about the fate of Lucy Meadows who sadly it appears took her own life presumably because of the pressure she had been put under by the media. No doubt the papers will treat that as just another sensational story! It all sickens me.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. The 'look after their own' thing came together for me amid all those journos writing pieces in her defence.

    Even the Lucy Meadows story has the feel of another turning point. I've not seen so much attention given to a story like this before, and there have been others.