J’accuse! An open letter to the Fourth Estate

Our first “real” Guest Author is Jaycee. Many many thanks for this passionate piece, sir!


(Credit: Yovisto)

Given that I’m a carpenter / joiner by trade, you might think that you could be excused for dismissing my missive at this very point. But, given that I have been working in my trade for over 45 years, you’d have to grant me experience in public interaction and give me time to deliver my complaint to you.

If there is one thing experience and time in ANY public interaction occupation, be it carpenter, policeman, teacher, spare-parts salesman or even journalist, give you, it’s the accrued skill to “suss out the situation”. For instance, when I first meet with a customer to look at a job and give a quote, I not only have to assess the site etc., I also have to do a quick “once-over” of the person I am going to be dealing with. And I had better be accurate as many a budding “self-employed” has been brought undone by over-estimating a customer’s capacity to deliver when it is pay-day! This is where life-experience allows one to use language, nuance and observation to make a reasonable judgement of the person. (An excellent summary of this ability can be found in Clarence Darrow’s wise essay How to Pick a Jury).


(Credit: Michael Schulder)

The second principle of good work is time. We constantly hear of the 24 hour news cycle making it difficult for journalists to meet quantity with quality, given the demands on their time. That I can mostly understand and accept: there are times when workloads do tend to crib into each other. Again, this is where experience comes in – being able to foresee the problem arising and making preparations to deal with it. I would imagine that a journalist, with his ear to the ground, would be very savvy to a developing situation.


(Credit: Kitty Cheng)

The site where I post has four moderators. Two of whom I have little knowledge as to their employment. The other two are self-employed contractors. One –”Bushfire Bill”– is a manufacturer/polisher of optical lenses of the highest quality. In a post he wrote many months ago, Bushfire Bill enthusiatically related his success in polishing a lens to such fine measurements. He felt called to share his excitement at the quality of finish NOT out of a sense of self-aggrandisement, but because that internal self-rewarding feeling of a job damn-well done! The other – “Joe6pack” – is a trucking contractor, who started the site with little knowledge of blogging technology, but a fistful of confidence that HE could tackle it. A confidence gathered, I’d warrant, from years of coordinating and timetabling loads and schedules and personally “mixing it” with highway traffic and conditions that would try (as we all know) the patience and vocabulary of a saint.


(Credit: Bushfire Bill & Joe6pack)

I relate all these facts to you because I know, as we all do, that having a loaded and busy schedule is no excuse for shoddy work. If there was, Bushfire Bill’s lenses would be “cross-eyed”, Joe6pack would be smashed on some highway up the coast, and I would be called back to right the wrongs of my constructions. Those with long experience at their craft are constantly thinking of technical points relating to that job even while sitting relaxing or on the road or even at another job – plotting the lines, the theme, the time-line, the length or load, not to mention the personal obligations of our everyday lives. The skilled professional and artisan must have the capability to do this even while doing handstands to entertain the kids! There are no excuses for sloppy workmanship in the professional work-world. It disgraces both the craft and the creator.


(Credit: Dave Gamache)

So … j’accuse.

I accuse the Fourth Estate of negligence in assessing the source and validity of their material.

I accuse the Fourth Estate of slacking off in the preparation of their work and dedication to quality of delivery.

I accuse the Fourth Estate of gross indifference to the quality of their craft and of the vanity of over-valuing their shoddy product.

I accuse the Fourth Estate most of all in the lack of professional application to the dignity of letters, a dignity bestowed through a good education and favourable employment that has allowed yourselves the privilege of delivering, in print, with your own by-line, articles of what ought to be erudite delivery and succinct opinion – unlike the cautious uncertainty whereby one of such self and mixed education as yours truly, must place oneself in the front line of possible ridicule to draw attention to YOUR shortcomings.

I accuse you, I accuse you, I accuse you. And in the end … I DAMN YOU!


(Credit: Brett Coomer)

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1,060 thoughts on “J’accuse! An open letter to the Fourth Estate

  1. Denese,

    Accepted with thanks.

    I will find you a sparkly drink and a woodland pool as soon as I’ve finished cross-posting the Superannuation piece.

    Comments on this thread will be closing in approximately 20 minutes.

  2. denese,
    If you really want to do something useful for the ALP in the upcoming federal election, go back to your Local Member’s office and ask them about the Phone Bank and volunteer to come in once a week to be a part of it.

  3. jack i know where your coming from

    but its the place where most of the traffi c is

    unforunatley,, we need to supply good links when see them

    just dont post to them, after all its facts and figures that win
    reasonable voters

    over here we are really talking to ourselves,

    i know ive seen figure of hits on this blog

    but i amsure it s more over there

    and i also think of those that are left there like gg
    its nice to give them a boost with good links

    so i will try that,

    i have a busy few weeks coming ,my daughter is doing prac
    and working in the pharmacy also

    so i am oma on call at the moment and son is moving house then flying to ireland for a wedding
    he was going with his freind that died while out jogging,
    so he is making the trip on his own,,, then meeting an older man we know
    and travelling to sicely then to columbo,
    wish he wasnt going there
    but it looks ok on line
    has any one here been there, to columbo i mean
    and we are looking after his gentle giant an alsatiain bitsa
    and taking the furniture to his house

    chidlren they never leave home bless them

  4. Yes, he truly is a big fish in an increasingly small pond of utter irrelevancy.

    I was reading snippets of Greg Jericho’s “The Rise of the Fifth Estate” over Easter; this quote was quite apt:
    “If your website is full of assholes, it’s your fault” — Anil Dash

    *hat tip to the “bouncers”*

  5. No offense, Denese, but over there they are just talking (ranting on and on) to themselves too. Let’s not overestimate the importance of either blog.

  6. An NBN message directed to the bogan masses: “Do you want to download porn at the speed of light or not?”

  7. There’s a lot of posts on Whirlpool like this one.

    [commenter 1:]
    Yes I am basing alot of my property purchase on NBN roll out maps, but the wife and I run an online business, we want NBN and we want it SoooN!!!

    [commenter 2 replies:]
    I’ve been helping one of my kids look for a property in blacktown and its interesting how much more interest there is in the local area for the properties that are within the #1-5 area’s over the rest of blacktown.

    I’ve seen at least a few young couples walking into open houses and looking up the NBN maps while in the open house.

    (source here)

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