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Confessions of a Broadsheet addict

Hymn to the online publisher.

Oh! Where did you come from and why do I flit to you so reflexively? Why are the newspapers, which you for some reason call “De Newspapers”, suddenly so full of you?

You are George Orwell for our Irish age. No concern needed, these post-modern days, to secure the “hearing” that motivated him: with digital journalism immortalising our inglorious musings, we are all indeed much, and long, heard.

And I don’t just mean the narcissism of a blog or under-followed Twitter account. For now we have the power without responsibility that is the interactive and anonymous “news source for the bewildered”. Everything. As it happens”.

Though not so much usually. And yet you showed spine against Ireland’s biggest bully.

Contradictory ‘Broadsheet’, refuge of the office drone, dog-wagger of official Ireland, purgatory of the arts graduate, icon for the libertarian, past-rejecting Y-generation. You never quite know when to just keep schtum. You wear your liberalism like an old scout’s badge, while an army of unpaid volunteers (me included) chomp and choke on a tsunami of sub-journalistic tidbits. Gay-cake debacle anyone? A cat that looks like Ireland?

Broadsheet marches to the beat of twitterdom and twitterdee. It vituperates the Iona Institute and all its progeny and smirks at our ante-deluvian institutions and their machinations. It celebrates little politically though it loves High Design and it cannot get enough gay rights and the campaigns they spawn.

Almost whimsically and perhaps in closet guilt at the apparent libertarianism of its no doubt mostly junior advertising exec readership (it promotes, nay ogles, Julien Mercille, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, Maître Mitty on a Monday. Worse still – and alien to the “get that stateout of my life readership, this is a leftie. “Beef cake”, ” boffin”, “egghead”, “the man they all want to marry”: all bou ant hair and sallow skin, his clean-cut just-bathed Canadian earnestness, an embodiment of dissent for Broadsheet’s hirsute, lycra-clad, hashtag revolutionaries. Julienne, You tease us with your threat of taser-flashing Gardaí; whip us into a frenzy with your regurgitation of pertinent surveys, poke us with your boring quotes from the eminent King and Thoreau. I applaud your refusal to succumb to what you describe as the media’s “propaganda of silence”, as you buzz around, flogging your book on every show in town. May I be so bold as to suggest you partake in the donning of a trench coat, a suitable accoutrement, a worthy homage to your mots.

Noms de Plume such as “FluffyBiscuits”, “Spaghetti Hoops” and “Bodger”: words synonymous with childhood innocence, a Freudian nod perhaps to the infantilism of Broadsheet, where ‘Animal Farm’ meets Old McDonald and Broadsheet ends up confusing our furry friends with the Irish electorate? What would Village make of a cat named after that notoriously unreliable chronicler, Herodotus, recently to be found on Broadsheet, purring at us (as Gaeilge, no less) mere humans to vote (Yes)? To meet the standards imposed by Broadsheet editorially, the poster requires just a talent to irritate the commenter merely the ability to circumnavigate a crude filter. Though there are suspicions that one John Ryan posts under more than one Nom and some of the commenters seem suspiciously on-message.

Even Village, doctrinaire as it is, deigns to allow dissenters: John Waters and Ruth Cullen. Constantin Gurdgiev with his Beckettian opaqueness. But Broadsheet only posts counter-liberal perspectives in a way that invites attack. Despite its name, suggestive of an open platform, where anything goes, Broadsheet and its commentariat are – dare I say it – profoundly Catholic in tone, devoutly intolerant of any counterweight to the individualistic, hipster agenda. Its commenters and posters drown in a pool of contradictions, one minute decrying “Je suis Charlie”, the next putting the boot into “Ich bin Hitler” merchants. And what’s going on with over 20 posts about the Fuehrer?

Broadsheet’s approach confuses editorial restraint with neutrality and balanced critique with trolling, hysterically accusing those who challenge the bluff of its resident in “journalists”, of risible blueshirtisms. Perhaps Broadsheet should pay some heed (on this and only this) to the bluster of Julien Mercille who in his attempt at adult analysis, opines worthily though uninterestingly that “democracy is a full time job and much remains to be accomplished”.

I challenge the chalet-girl spirit of Broadsheet, but can concede Broadsheet, being all things to all modern men, is not without its merits, though perhaps the sheet is narrower than it thinks.

Lost, Broadsheet be thy carriage office. Public order offence, Broadsheet be thy kangaroo court. Gay, Broadsheet be thy brave champion. Spill thy guts, Broadsheet be thy diary. Gossipmonger, iconoclast, purveyor of transcripts, bolsterer of the hipster status quo. Bully, dogmatist, materialist. Never entirely unintelligent though hardly wise. Know thyself. Why Broadsheet thou art indeed the entertaining slutty un-grown-up child of thy paper predecessors. Redemption ows from thy every post.