Monday, 3 March 2008

Who Guards The Guardian?

I grew up with the Graun. I used to read it most days as my parents had it delivered. These days, being in Austria, I check various Grauniad rss-feeds for my daily news intake. As a Liberal paper expressing the viewpoints of its readership it really shouldn't be too surprising to, every now and then, find articles expressing the exactly the sort of middle-class Liberal, London-centric, small-minded-ness that gets them derided in the tabloids. I don't even much care for Birmingham, but the heading and sub-heading for the article on the other side of this link, turned my stomach slightly:
Brum: Britain's number one?
Birmingham is to join Delice, a European food network. Are there not better qualified places?

I assume that Delice did some research. They didn't just pick Birmingham out of a hat. Perhaps Birmingham might have bid most and earliest, though that would suggest a city trying to enhance its image and therefore worthy of some encouragement, rather than outright sneering.

The cheek, really, of Delice not coming cap-in-hand to London first, if not for London's sake, but so that London-based journalists can spare Delice the embarrassment of choosing Birmingham when they could have suggested Ludlow, Cambridge or, in a few years when the requisite top chef has made his mark, Nottingham.

Update: Rebecca Seal, the author of the original post has now commented:
I'm not bashing Birmingham at all - I'm sure it's a brilliant place to live (and eat).

And yet the article starts with the question above and ends with:
Which towns have a proper food culture that's worth shouting about?

I'm sure the condescension wasn't entirely intended, but the whole article suggests Birmingham is neither qualified nor has a proper food culture. I don't know enough about Birmingham to really comment about that, but I'd be unwilling to just dismiss it out of hand. It's obvious that, as she hasn't done a lick of research, Ms Seal doesn't know enough either.

I suppose that's why the proper part of the Guardian has qualifed sub-editors.

It isn't just about Birmingham. I'm sure if the city in question were Sheffield or Leeds or wherever the same comment would be made. It's telling that in Ms Seal's later comment she adds:

However, while I'm not pleading penury, the Observer's budget definitely doesn't extend to sending me, or any of us, off to eat all over the country

It really should, shouldn't it?

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