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On @PennyRed, #pennygate and what I want from journalists

April 18, 2012

So, in a change from all the other days ending in ‘y’, the internet has been having a go at Laurie Penny.

Cards on the table, I’m a fan of Penny. She’s smoked my tobacco. We’ve chatted about polyamory. And she’s been, along with others, a big influence on my political development over the last 2 years or so.

So. There are vague rumours that Penny’s been making stuff up or embellishing the facts to fit the narrative she wants for an article. However, when Brian Whelan looked into it, he decided not to publish. This is not Hari over again.

Here’s the thing. I like my journalists with personality. Like Penny, I have read and enjoyed Transmetropolitan. Spider Jerusalem is a wonderful creation, but objective he ain’t. And neither’s Penny. I don’t want my news produced by a machine, and would rather that the writer acknowledge and state their bias than pretend they don’t have one.

Penny has set herself a large task. As far as I can work out, she is seeking to document, record and propagate the global war of the powerless against the powerful. That’s no small task. And not an easy one.

That said, we need to have standards. But nothing is more likely to engender my trust that someone admitting a mistake and acknowledging a lesson learnt. I don’t know the content of the conversations between Penny and Whelan, but if there are things she needs to fess up, now’s the time.

I really hope we don’t lose this powerful voice for the voiceless.


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