Now, I know it’s the case in journalism that dog should not bite dog, and even more so that dog should not bite dog (nor even puppy) within the same pack. But this stuff about the 19-year-old son of an occasional contributor to the Guardian’s travel section who somehow (how?) got a blog spot on, um, the Guardian’s travel blog where he was going to regale us with his experiences deserved the abuse it got, for one simple reason:
It wasn’t good enough.
The reality is that very few 19-year-olds are competent at writing anything well enough that it deserves to be on a national newspaper’s site in a prominent position. Nothing I wrote at 19 would have deserved that sort of publication. The stuff I wrote at 20 managed to get me published for the first time, in a tennis magazine read by perhaps a few thousand people. OK, I’m hardly a shining light to the skill of writing, but I have what is maybe an old-fashioned approach: national newspapers ought to be only the very best you can get – at least, that you can get within the time constraints you’re set.
Gap year travel blogs, though, are the sort of thing from which you should be able to choose from a vast, vast field. I’d expect to spend days, weeks even trawling through them to find the one, perhaps two, that really shine.
And nowadays, when you put something up there which isn’t good enough, you get kicked. Which is what David Cox points out (only 200 comments! An easy read!).
Quality: it’s a simple formula. But hard to do consistently. Let’s hope Max goes off and gets a blog somewhere (Blogger and WordPress do them free, you know) and practises, practises, practises.