Happy Girlboss Christmas: the sham of International Women’s Day

UN International Women's Day banner: a colourful, stylised illustration showing women with their arms encircling the globe.

I saw the phrase “career porn” the other day. It was coined by journalist Lizzy Dening in her Out Of Office newsletter and she used it to describe all those films and TV series you get about the (fictional) rise of successful business women. (I’d also use it to describe 90% of the content on LinkedIn.)

But, as she points out, “Work isn’t the place to fulfil our Cinderella fantasies – that’s Capitalism talking.”

So why has International Women’s Day turned into a career-porn fest?

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Churnalism, propaganda and the new normal

Photo of the prime minister at a podium, with "Drinks Nibbles Games" photoshopped over the usual three-word slogan.

I had my doubts with “new normal”. By the time we got to “live with the virus” I knew.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist (antivaxxers are definitely Bad People), but I’m pretty sure we are being told what to think about covid.

I’ve worked as a journalist, and I know what it’s like to rewrite a press release (if it was a non-controversial, and we were busy, and it just had facts rather than opinions). The key word is “rewrite”: we always used to put the information in our own words. The only exceptions were things you couldn’t rewrite (like art-speak) because they didn’t actually say anything, which ended up in the bin.

Churnalism – where you don’t even rewrite the PR – is one thing, and there’s an excuse for it at least in regional newspapers where cuts mean that newsrooms are now run with a skeleton staff of reporters and only one sub editor between them.

What I’m seeing now is different. This is (mostly) broadcast media, and (mostly) national. This is journalism as echo chamber.

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Small business biographies: #what #not #to #do

A cat inside a cardboard box.

Outside the box? I don’t think so.

It’s Small Business Saturday on, er, Saturday. We’ve had Black Friday and Cyber Monday so why not collect the set?

This one’s a bit different: it is, according to their website, “a grassroots, non-commercial campaign”. Well, yeees… it was set up by American Express. So it’s still all about buying stuff.

Whatever the case, I can’t argue with the “shop local” message.  After all, if you’re going to buy stuff it’s nicer to buy it from small businesses and keep people like me afloat.

But it’s made me think about what being a small business is. I’d rather call myself self-employed than an entrepreneur, but I think I’m in a minority. Being an entrepreneur is just so fashionable these days. Continue reading

When is an adjective not an adjective? Crime (against English) of the year.

Just because I have a blog called Crimes against English doesn’t mean I’m a pedant. In fact – if we’re discussing the English language – pedants are my least favourite people after retailers and marketing copywriters. But everyone has their breaking point and I think I’ve found mine.

Earlier this year, I did one of those ‘how good are you at English?’ quizzes. It involved identifying parts of speech. It’s a long time since my grammar lessons at grammar school, so I had to think about it. And I wondered: does knowing what adjectives and nouns are called actually matter?

Well, maybe it does. Because if people knew the difference between adjectives and nouns, you wouldn’t get this.

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