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Monday, 9 November 2009

I feel for Tom Tudehope, who has been implicated in a Downfall-spoof video that lampoons a Liberal Party factional battle in language that, frankly, most people would not understand.

It's full of 'in' jokes the meaning of which 99.99 percent of Australians would be oblivious to. Until it was pointed out to them in the Sydney Morning Herald article linked to above.

Tudehope's name emerged in the online world only recently, when Malcolm Turnbull gave it out during the Media140 conference held in Sydney last Thursday and Friday.

As editors handling a piece by Karl Quinn, The Age's entertainment editor, put it, "He who lives by the cutting-edge dies by the cutting edge".

The online world is liable to deliver shocks of this nature, because so much is on view all the time. There's no place here for those who don't stand by their words and actions. Gumption - or fortitude - is a base requirement.

Even for me, running a blog can be a liability. In fact, I've published things here that have come back to bite me. And sometimes it hurts.

This morning, for example, a post I made this year came back to haunt me because I was in the process of getting a piece published when my colloquitor came across it and decided to "hold off". I was shocked because the disagreement chronicled referred to a piece originally pitched to the website that was quite unrelated in subject, and the correspondent was even different.

So I know something of what Tudehope is feeling. The shock this kind of thing produces is physical, not only mental. It causes pain - and it's meant to. But blogging is fun and that's why people do it.

They don't do it to make enemies or to score points. Most bloggers do it because they care deeply about what they write about. It matters that debate be open and fair. It matters that the issues be more important than pride. It matters because - to paraphrase Jay Rosen, who spoke via videolink at the Media140 forum - you "think democratically".

That's why you want to be a journalist.

Maybe that's why Tudehope - who denies involvement in a "trail of emails" - or whoever made the Downfall-spoof, did it. They are passionately invested, personally involved, and committed to something they believe in.

Good luck, Tom, and don't forget to keep tweeting.

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