Paul Staines – Editor-in-Chief
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Cartoons by Rich Johnston
Guido Fawkes’ blog (as it was then styled) was started on September 4, 2004.. The choice of the Guido avatar and character was deliberate, the thinking being that Guy Fawkes had massive 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 site was purely to make mischief at the expense of politicians and for the founding author’s own self-gratification. At the time most political blogs were, from the author’s viewpoint, too earnest and serious. His intention was to create a more fun, gossipy and acerbic “anti-politics” form of news reporting specialising in tittle-tattle, rumour and gossip. 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 is the third person voice and trademarked brand of the website. English newspaper diarists have historically referred to themselves in the third person since the days of the City coffee house pamphleteers and Guido is a digital descendant of that tradition. 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, was 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 tells Guido she is proud of her offspring.
The Guido team see themselves as campaigning journalists. Campaigning against political sleaze, corruption and hypocrisy. We don’t believe in objective impartiality nor pretend to it.
Guido frequently breaks stories that have gone on to dominate newspaper pages, we often get stories out there even before broadcasters, delivering real news in real time. The site is the most widely read politics source in Westminster, closely followed in Whitehall and media newsrooms. The blog was in the early days 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. In 2014 after a decade in business we began new channels for MediaGuido, EuroGuido, TechnoGuido (retired 2020), GaiaFawkes, GalleryGuido and GuyNews for videos. As a result we stopped referring to the website as a blog. Guido is a news site with a blog heritage.
The Guidoisation of politics
Content is the key to the site’s success, original content. Every day we aim to amuse, amaze, anger, entertain inform. If any time you read the site it makes you laugh or angry, or hopefully tells you something you didn’t know before, it has succeeded. Readers come here for tittle-tattle, rumour and gossip. Sure, Guido sometimes campaigns on serious political issues we think are important, we never forget we’re in the infotainment business. We know it and we love it.
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.
Where is the website published?
Not in England or Wales m’lud. That has been established after a decade of breaching court orders and injunctions handed down in the English legal system. When the UK Supreme Court discussed the issue in relation to the Elton John / David Furnish “Celebrity Threesome” Affair, it was unchallenged that the site is outside the jurisdiction. What we will concede is that the hosting is in the United States of America under the protection of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Editorial control is exercised by the editor who is not a United Kingdom resident. As we told Lord Justice Leveson:
What is with the comments?
We have a love hate relationship with readers who comment. Sometimes the feeling of absolute power is just too good to resist, particularly if they have spent ages writing an essay of a comment, we just delete ’em. Mainly comments from bores and obsessives get deleted. Off-topic comments sometimes 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 site. 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. In 2018 we decided it was regrettably necessary 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. This site is private property, not a public commons, readers are guests. In 2019 we introduced AI software powered comment moderation which punishes bad spelling as well as toxic comments. Guido is a believer in freedom of speech and suggests you exercise it by starting your own blog.