Alex Wickham – Reporter
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Cartoons by Rich Johnston.
Guido’s blog was started in September 2004. The choice of the Guido avatar and character was deliberate, the thinking being that Guy Fawkes had great name recognition, a memorable “brand” and a great reputation as the only man to enter parliament with honest intentions.
The primary motivation for the creation of the blog was purely to make mischief at the expense of politicians and for the author’s own self-gratification. At the time most political blogs, from the author’s viewpoint, were earnest and serious. His intention was to create a more fun, gossipy and acerbic “anti-politics” form of commentary. Never having suffered from a lack of intellectual confidence, the adoption of tabloid news values was not embarrassing or accidental, it was a deliberate and necessary step towards becoming popular. The British blogosphere was at that time full of wannabee Telegraph and Guardian leader writers and a lot of “Fisking” – the tedious line-by-line critique of long boring articles in the form of an even longer, even more boring article.
Guido set out to be sensationalist, Matt Drudge was an inspiration, Kelvin Mackenzie’s Sun of the 80s was another. The camp, politically incorrect tone of the media/music/culture/whatever website, Popbitch, is deliberately echoed. When media pundit Roy Greenslade described Guido’s blog as “the bastard love-child of Popbitch and Kelvin Mackenzie”, Guido was proud of his parentage. Madame Popbitch herself contacted Guido to say she was proud of her offspring.
Guido sees himself as a journalist, a campaigning journalist who publishes via a website. He campaigns against political sleaze and hypocrisy. He doesn’t believe in impartiality nor pretend to it.
Guido has frequently broken stories that have gone on to dominate newspaper pages. He often gets stories out before broadcasters. The blog is read widely in the Westminster political village and in newsrooms.
The blog was once the Guardian’s political commentary blog of the year and has won numerous new media awards Guido had never heard of before nor in all likelihood will ever again. Guido regularly appears in those wanky annual lists of media movers and shakers. He claims to pay no attention to them, but secretly always likes it when he is ranked higher than Nick Robinson.
The Guidoisation of Politics
Content is the key to blogging success, original content. Every day this blog aims to amuse, amaze, anger, entertain and inform. If any time you read the blog it makes you laugh or angry, or hopefully tells you something you didn’t know before, it has succeeded. Sure, Guido sometimes campaigns on serious political issues we think are important, but we never forget we’re in the infotainment business. We know it and we love it.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is it written in the third person? “Guido was.. Guido understands… Guido this, that and the other?”
It is because it is written “in character”. Many newspaper diarists use the same device. Guido is not an individual.
Do you delete comments you disagree with?
Sometimes the feeling of absolute power is just too good to resist, particularly if they have spent ages writing an essay of a comment. Mainly comments from bores and obsessives get deleted. Off-topic comments get deleted as well. The comments policy is arbitrary and inconsistent. Bear in mind hundreds of thousands of comments get made every year. There is a vague ad hominem offensiveness level that merits deletion as well, by and large that level is different for public figures than private figures. Thousands of comments attacking Guido are still on the blog. Witty ones in particular don’t get deleted. Some people are just outright banned and their comments disappear as soon as seen. The policy is inconsistent because Guido doesn’t like to pre-moderate comments. Obviously comments that risk libel writs also get deleted. Guido has more than enough writ threats of his own to deal with. Any kind of reference to Guido’s family or alter egos are deleted without hesitation. Mrs Fawkes insisted on that after a particularly bad stalker incident.
This blog is private property, not a public commons, readers are guests. Guido is a believer in freedom of speech and suggests you exercise it by starting your own blog.
This blog is consistently the most popular independent blog in Britain. Certainly in 2006 – 07 it beat everyone else. Iain Dale used to jostle for first place and the tech blogs Gizmodo and Tech Digest are highly competitive in traffic terms – based on absolute unique visitors. Hitwise in May 2007 ranked Guido the #1 independent site outside a mainstream media organisation. All these numbers are very contentious and the source of much blogger angst, envy and flame wars.
In 2008 The Economist listed Guido as Britain’s most popular blog, as does the industry monitor Hitwise. The Guardian says Guido is the 79th most powerful media figure and the 7th most powerful digital media industry player. Editorial Intelligence‘s panel of the great and the good says Guido is Britain’s most influential blogger. Mrs Fawkes just snorts and tells him to change the baby’s nappy…
In 2009 the Guardian said Guido was the 77th most powerful media mogul, in the digital media top 10 Guido dropped to 9th place and several billion dollars behind the Google founders. In November the Guardian did a profile which said cabinet ministers feared the blog (“The blogger who knows the power of gossip“). By 2011 the Guardian had promoted Guido to being the 47th most powerful media mogul and done another profile. On another list the Telegraph said Guido was the 34th most influential right-winger. Readers of Total Politics said Guido was Britain’s #1 blogger. This must mean it is time to get a white cat…
In 2010 GQ said Guido was the 33rd most influential man in Britain and the readers of Total Politics magazine have now voted the blog #1 for three straight years running. Traffic on the site is by all metrics now greater than any other politics website in Britain. During the 2010 general election the site produced weekly Guy News videos which garnered hundreds of thousands of views. The blog became a four person operation during the 2010 election campaign and remains a three-man operation to this day.