Press Releases, The Blogger & Doctor Who

There's been interesting debate (well, I say interesting... I mean irritating) of late, about screenwriters' blogs being used as "press releases". Or not.

So here's my view. Our blogs are the face we present to the public, and to the industry. It's constantly possible that we will be judged solely on the first snap-shot glance that a net-surfer has of them. So we should constantly bear this in mind.

This doesn't mean that we have to bullshit. No need for bullshit at all. But ideally, we should exude positivity. After reading your latest blog-post, would you want to work with you? An interesting question for blogsters to occasionally ask themselves.

Equally, people who decry certain bloggers as press release merchants - or worse, sycophants - should also ask themselves a few questions. Mainly, why does self-promotion strike you as a bad thing? If it all offends you that much, why are you still reading? And why do people who object to showboating tend to have little worth showboating themselves?

Tonight, it's the launch bash for Doctor Who Series Four, and I'm ludicrously excited. Yes, I write for Doctor Who Magazine. And yes, I fully intend to write for the show, one day. Yet if anyone doubts my excitement about Doctor Who itself, assuming it's "propaganda" or "political positioning" or any of that other cynical crap which gets dribbled in 'net forums, then I shall (a) be gravely insulted and (b) point them in the direction of that four-year-old kid in 1979, who almost keeled over with joy when his mum brought home the first ever issue of Doctor Who Weekly.

There's a hilarious amount of quacking about modern-day Doctor Who from people who hate it. Not content with hating it, though, these quackers feel the need to cast doubt on people who love it, like religious fanatics in reverse. As if we fans know it's really rubbish, but won't admit it. Well, guess what? Maybe we just love it. Maybe it's that simple. Maybe quackers should stop quacking and secure themselves a life.

To sum up, then, our blogs will contain whatever we want them to. And if that includes a lengthy list of our achievements to date, then good for us. Hooray!


Anonymous said...

Today is the day when 30-something year old men blog about their love of Doctor Who.
It has been proven by scientists that this is perfectly normal, and is, in fact, good for you.

As for Blogging as self-promotion.
If its a community we have here of fellow creatives then surely its natural to announce or talk about achievements and goals and such-like.

For example, I have found James Moran's recent blogs to be very inspiring.

Oli said...

Craft and behind the scenes articles are more satisfying (and re-readable) in the long run than announcements - I'm more likely to bookmark John August's advice on how to introduce characters than his announcement that he's writing a musical about a bloke named Bob.

However, blogs are a personal thing, and what are you meant to do, ignore your triumphs? Fuck, no.

Should I ever got a commission or sell a spec I will go ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON about it until you all wish I was dead, but I may do this without guilt for it is my blog. Amen.

Jason Arnopp said...

Is John August really writing a musical about a bloke named Bob? Sounds great!

Lucy said...

Jason, I for one am sick to death of your constant self promotion, so will be applying for a blog divorce. So there.


Jason Arnopp said...

Bloody hell!

There I was, down on one knee, shrieking, "But think of the blog-kids, Luce!", when I scrolled down a bit. Phew...

Robin Kelly said...

It's a shame that needed to be said. We should be inspired by others success not resentful.

John August can have this for nothing:

"My name is Bob! I have a job! I work as an enforcer for the mob!"

"I like to rob! I never sob! I really like corn on the cob!"

Oli said...

Yes, he is. I was going to link to the announcement, but John August being John August, there was advice in there too, somewhat damaging my point.

Jason Arnopp said...

Sterling work, Mr Kelly!

I might also suggest to John that Bob could run some kind of Sideshow.

Chris (ukscriptwriter) said...

If I ever sell a screenplay, I intend to blog about it until my fingers bleed. Once they have healed, I will blog some more.

And that's only after a sale. If something I write gets made into a movie or TV show.....

Dan said...

I don't like Doctor Who but I cast no doubts upon you. Please continue with your self-promotion.

Anonymous said...

great post,...but, anorak that I am (and what else would you expect from a Doctor Who fan) I have to point out that the first issue of Doctor Who Weekly was published in 1979, not 1976

Rach said...

I can't promote any successes? Oh rats. And I had my post written already for when I was recognised as the greatest writer ever born.

It's in a dusty corner of my laptop with byte sized tumbleweed drifting past.

Keep on telling us of your successes mate.

Jason Arnopp said...

Thank you, folks. And yes, thanks to Anonymous for pointing out my mistake - have corrected it in the post.

To be quite frank, I had the mentality of a four-year-old at the time, despite being seven, and have retained it ever since.

Anonymous said...

Jason Arnopp.
Mental age of a 4 year old.
Debauched body of a 71 year old.

Jason Arnopp said...

Yes. Keith Richards'. Ahem.

John Soanes said...

Bewildered by the idea that people might dislike folks talking about their achievements on their blogs, to be honest; if you see a blog as a diary-cum-noticeboard, surely that's exactly the sort of place that such news would go?
I know I fully intend to brag on my blog, it's just a case of doing something bragworthy, but that's in my hands, innit?

Jaded and Cynical said...

No one's objecting to a certain amount of marketing and self-promotion.

But there are are a couple of boundaries.

Firstly, the bullshit has to be tempered with stuff that's actually worth reading. Bloggers like John August, Alex Epstein, Bill Martell, Jane Espensen and many others, do a great job of offering advice, guidance and insight, over and above whatever personal ego-stroking they care to indulge in.

To put it simply, they've earned the right.

Maybe your original post was influenced by the fact that I had a go at James Moran on his blog about this very subject.

He seems like a nice guy (and I mean that), but his blog had become one press release after another.

If you're going to take that route, either people will stop reading, or they'll add some critical comments, or both.

Mr Moran has since started posting about the Torchwood writing process (almost 18 months after the fact) so maybe those remarks touched a nerve.

The second boundary relates to the nature of the bullshit on the site.

It's one thing to tell me that the first episode of Doctor Who was 'breathtaking.' (It wasn't. It's just a mediocre kid's show.) But I'll let that slide because you're on the payroll and what else can you write?

But if you want to insist, as JM did, that an overweight, menopausal redhead with moles on her face is 'gorgeous', then you've crossed the line from PR bullshit and passed into the realms of flat-out insulting people's intelligence.

Just my opinion, of course.

Robin Kelly said...

Jay, if you were paying to read Jimmy's blog then that's a fair enough point but I reckon we should be damned grateful he bothers to share his experiences. There's not many pro TV writers in the UK who do blog. He owes you and the rest of us nothing.

While one person may see it as self-promotion, for another it's proof that ordinary people can be successful by dint of talent and hard work and so be an inspiration to work harder.

You offer the options of not reading the blog anymore or offering critical comments or both. Why not just stop reading and go back to the writers who have 'earned the right'? Why make him feel bad?

You complain about Jimmy's ego but do you honestly believe his Torchwood post had anything to do with your negative comments? Isn't it more likely the delay was due to Torchwood still being on air?

I'm not on the Doctor Who payroll and wouldn't even call myself a fan as such - although I mostly like it, I suppose - but even though Catherine Tate is "old, fat, ginger and spotty" (to translate your pusillanimous euphemisms) I definitely would and don't think 'gorgeous' is much of an exaggeration.

Face it, Jay, sometimes people just have different tastes to you in TV programmes as well as women. It doesn't mean that they're bullshitting.

Jaded and Cynical said...


I haven't complained about his ego. Doubtless it's no bigger than anyone else's. And I'm not trying to make him feel bad.

But before his latest post, something like 16 out of the previous 17 offerings were little more than press releases for projects he's involved in. And not very subtle press releases at that.

As I've said before, he's free to indulge in as much promotional bullshit as he wants.

But if he's then going to invite comments from the public, nobody should be surprised if a little criticism enters the mix.

Not everyone's on the payroll. Not all of us are even angling to get on the payroll. Some of us just say what we think.

Ironically, Robin, your own site is an excellent example of how a blogger can strike the balance between raising his profile and also creating something useful for other people.

Anonymous said...

J & C

Would you like us to hug those mean spirits from you?

PS: Your blog can't muster up a single post, so it's a bit rich to trash other people's.

Jason Arnopp said...

Jaded: Ironically, you're a very funny man. Please keep up the dribblings.