The Times told us about 40 Blogs That Matter. I got that down to 6. You do not have to agree. If you are more interested in knitting and cooking that is fine. Got to The Times' link and choose your own.
The crusading Canadian journalist’s [ She is a left wing Jew in fact - Editor ] site mainly collates work published elsewhere – by herself and others – but Klein also posts direct to the blog on a wide variety of matters, including climate change, globalisation, surveillance and Palestine. Recent posts, in keeping with Klein’s interest in disaster and its aftermath as explored in her book The Shock Doctrine, have focused on the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.
The Magistrate’s Blog
There are 30,000 or so unpaid magistrates across England and Wales. For five years, one of them has anonymously detailed the cut and thrust of the job, providing a grimly funny insight into Britain’s sinful underbelly with the same feel and tone as a Hogarth or Dickens.
Gadget lives in Ruralshire, “a county in England, not too far from Metrocity” – an anonymity measure, obviously, because if this police inspector had his identity revealed, he'd be out of a job. His blog is where he lets off steam about the Home Office, bureaucracy and political-correctness training courses. It’s provocative stuff, and as an insight into life on the policing front line in 2010, it’s invaluable.
He’s the blogger who could decide the election. Damian Whitworth meets Guido Fawkes
Like his 17th-century namesake, the political blogger Guido Fawkes likes to operate in the Westminster shadows and is loath to let too much daylight illuminate his mystique.
But he shed his anonymity some time ago and is now known to be Paul Staines, 43, a former political activist, City broker and rave organiser with a wild past. He is voluble on the subject of his right-wing libertarian views and his mischief-making blog. But he is cagey about where that blogging actually takes place.
His website, order-order.com, is published by a company based in Nevis. “Very hard to sue the company. It’s a litigation shield,” explains Staines. When pressed on whether he has an office somewhere, he admits, “Yes, there is a secret office, but it’s not mine. I don’t have a business address in the UK. I have a laptop.” The advertising sold on the website “pays for two junior staffers”. Unlike some other blogs, he says, he doesn’t have a union or rich rightwinger as a backer. It is just him. “I am Lord Evil.”
In the world of political blogging, Fawkes has found a distinctive voice; not by the way he expresses himself (though he is louder and angrier than most), but by breaking stories and claiming political scalps. He claims David Cameron as a reader and that George Osborne recently told Conservative Party staff he didn’t want leaks to Guido. The pep talk was leaked.
Last year, Staines obtained e-mail correspondence between Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s top spinner, and the Labour activist Derek Draper, in which they discussed a smear campaign against Tory figures. Brown was furious and McBride resigned.
The net result has been a huge boost in readers, up to two million page views a month from about 150,000 different computers. He says his readership figures “jostle” with those of The Spectator magazine (the right-wing weekly sells 76,000 copies a week). The median reader is a 44-year-old male and the biggest identifiable source of traffic comes from the Parliament he despises, followed by the BBC. “Then it might be News International [parent company of The Times], Associated Newspapers, the investment banks, the bigger universities: Oxbridge, Manchester.”
Like his namesake, he wants to light a fire under Parliament. “I pretty much hate politicians as a given. I am a libertarian...British politics are pretty low-grade. The best people don’t go into politics nowadays, do they? There’s a difference between politicians and other people who fiddle their expenses. Newspaper men do not get on their high horse and say they are moral, upstanding citizens working for the common good. Politicians do. They are despised.”
The blog, which describes Gordon Brown as the “prime mentalist”, is written in the third person. “Guido is me times 150 per cent.” Staines is the son of an Indian-born engineer and an Irish mother. He considers himself Irish and carries an Irish passport, but sounds as you would expect a boy from northwest London to sound. After messing up his A levels he went to Hull College of Higher Education, “arsed around in student politics and got thrown out. I was one of those too right-wing for Norman Tebbit types. Spent a few years dossing around in think-tanks and pressure groups.”
He worked for David Hart [ also a Jew - Editor ] , the right-wing activist and sometime adviser to Margaret Thatcher and Michael Portillo. “Did a lot of stuff behind the Iron Curtain. I was Hart’s aide-de-camp, it was great… We groomed Portillo for the leadership. After politics, did a bit of acid house.”
He is referring to a spell promoting raves and taking drugs “if I got a chance”. He spent 18 months playing blackjack for a living. “One day I lost all the money. Borrowed money off the Triads. All that sort of mayhem.” He became a City trader and ended up in Tokyo with “a terrible coke habit, chasing strippers”. The blog made its debut in 2004.
Over a coffee in a local café he is good company and wears his right-wing nuttiness lightly. He would rather Cameron was in power than Brown, but he wishes the Tory leader would be bolder and more right-wing. Whoever wins the keys to Downing Street, he’ll be causing trouble, for he is nothing if not tenacious in pursuing his feuds. Last autumn, Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP whose private life had been the subject of allegations in the McBride-Draper e-mails, sued the pair. Staines delivered the writ to McBride. “The look of horror on his face was priceless. And he had to pay me to serve him.”
In June 2005, Michael Arrington started TechCrunch, a Silicon Valley blog that assesses new internet start-ups and other online developments. Five years on, the 40-year-old, who grew up in California and Surrey, is one of the most powerful people on the internet. Posting 30 or so stories a day, he breaks big news, such as Google’s acquisition of YouTube, and his approval is gold: a positive review on TechCrunch today usually means interest in your ingenious new app or social networking tool will explode tomorrow.
PS My verdict - Boring.
When Michael Yon calls, it’s from somewhere northwest of Kandahar, Afghanistan. He’s on patrol with members of the US Army’s 117th Infantry Battalion.
“They’re not doing much fighting at the moment,” he says, chattily. “The last mission we did was pretty uneventful.”
It’s not always thus. “People have been killed around me in the past, and I’m sure it’s going to happen again this year. I’ve been in so many firefights and seen so many bombings that I literally cannot remember them all.”
The ex-US Special Forces member has documented frontline life with American and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2004. When first invited to Iraq he claims he “didn’t even really know what a blog was”. When he discovered the reality on the ground was a world away from the sanitised reports in Western media, he resolved to expose the genuine situation via his online dispatches.
By 2006, he recalls, “I was saying very clearly, ‘We’re losing the war in Afghanistan…’ I lost a huge number of readers because of that. But I stuck with [that view] until this March, when I said for the first time we might be turning the war around.
“I don’t call myself a journalist, because I do take sides openly. For instance, I am very pro-British soldiers and very pro-American soldiers: I can’t take that out... The British and American governments, on the other hand, well, they get different treatment.”
PS My verdict - The real thing. He knows how to use a camera too
Super accurate ammunition can give first round hits 20 miles out. Impressive. Not cheap though.