If you’re currently an Indy reader it’s probably easy to agree on why the newspaper shouldn’t be entrusted to Rod Liddle’s editorial caresses. But why should his potential employer care about Liddle’s reputation? Maybe Lebedev thinks the Indy would be more profitable with Liddle’s paranoid rants deciding the front page. Maybe he’s blithely unconcerned about monkemfc’s preferences in violent sexual contact with female newsreaders. But even if the content of Liddle’s message board contributions doesn’t trouble Lebedev, the fact that everyone now knows about them should.
If Liddle is hired, he’s probably going to be overseeing the paper’s gradual move away from print and into predominantly online distribution, yet he’s already shown himself thoroughly incompetent in online communication. He treated published comments on a message board as though they were private statements, and although he’s claimed that the most outrageous of the monkemfc posts were made by a hacker, he didn’t have the nous to protect his online reputation in a forum where he was still an active member by getting the alleged hacker’s posts deleted.
Interviewed by Kate Silverton on 5 Live this morning, he said: “I didn’t have time to go back and check the URL on every post,” suggesting a breezy disconnect from the words published under his name – not exactly taking ownership of his output in the way that an editor really ought to. This could be the why the monkemfc comments are ultimately damaging to Liddle: not because they show that he’s prone to blurts of contrarian offensiveness (because we knew that already) but because they show that that he doesn’t understand the medium he’s going to be working in. He can’t manage an online reputation and he can’t control the words that appear under his own username on a forum, never mind across a whole newspaper.
Text © Sarah Ditum, 2010