No, I don’t mean they look like trolls – though one or two certainly fit the bill – but I was considering the article in the Sunday Herald about columnists and online responses and it reminded me of something I had considered a while ago: is there much difference between trolls and a columnist?
Trolls write to get a reaction our of people (see the comments by one person at the end of this article about Bob Crampsey), they’ll put forward some nonsense regardless of context in the hopes of people getting upset or flaming back at them. It’s different from putting forward a reasoned argument – or what you think is a reasoned argument – in that there’s normally no or little factual evidence to their opinion.
And to an extent, that’s what some columnists do. Put forward a point of view, sometimes push it to an extreme, get a reaction out of people. Some people realise they are having their buttons pushed and some don’t.
In an age where a lot of the news is deemed similar, a good columnist can be worth their weight in gold as their viewpoint will have people coming back. The likes of Iain Bell, Richard Littlejohn and Jeremy Clarkson are always worth a read. You may not agree with them, but they’re never dull. And I suppose that’s the difference. A good columnist does actually state a case and argue it – which makes them stand out from trolls.
Sadly, that does mean, quite a few of the UK press coumnists are little more than trolls because let’s be honest, there are some really duff ones out there. Jimmy Breslin has nothing to worry about.