Last month, Ramsha Khan tweeted that having graduated from City University’s journalism course she was “now a professional journalist”. That prompted me to write an article saying how after 30 years of writing for a living, getting lawyers’ letters, death threats, buckets of online trolling and harassment etc, I guess with no degree I was not by this definition a “professional journalist”. Nor was my late uncle Christopher Booker. His Cambridge degree was in history, mine something worthless from Oxford. Neither of us was taught how to be a journalist in a degree course. It seems Ramsha is upset and has sent a threatening email this morning which, naturally, I publish in full below:
I don’t know you and have recently stumbled across a hit piece you’ve written about me, which I believe is libellous.
You claim that I have stated you are not a “professional journalist” — I have never said those words and I didn’t even know you were until someone brought attention to the article you have written about me.
You state “ I’ve been writing as a job for 30 years now but I am, according to Ms Khan, not qualified to be a professional journalist.”
This is libel. There is no quote of me saying this about you. I will take legal action if you don’t take this defamatory article about me down.
Oh dear. I did not say, in the article, that Ms Khan had stated in a quote that I was not a professional journalist. I merely pointed out that her equating obtaining a degree in journalism to being a professional journalist was ludicrous. Uncle Chris would not claim to have been a professional historian nor would I claim to be a professional philosopher just because of the degrees (both 2nds) which we obtained. I claim to be a professional journalist because I am paid to write articles and have been for almost three decades. Uncle Chris would have made the same claim after six decades of being paid to write.
If Ms Khan reads the article in full she would see that, note her remarks and point out how they apply not just to me but to Chris and also my colleague Darren Atwater. We are all professional journalists but not because of the degree we have, that has nothing to do with it. Taken within the context of the article, my point was about equating being a professional joursnalist with having a degree in journalism, not about suggesting Ms Khan was attacking me personally.
My article is not a “hit job” on Ms Khan. It is not all about you Ms Snowflake. It is about how our profession has changed – once upon a time a professional jouranlist was someone who was paid to shine a spotlight on the powerful. Now it is just someone with a degree. That is regrettable and might explain why folks view our profession with ever more disdain.
I guess at City University they must teach folks that you can sue folks for libel on the basis of what they did not say. They must also deal with the idea that for me to have libelled Ms Khan I would have had to prove that my words “I’ve been writing as a job for 30 years now but I am, according to Ms Khan, not qualified to be a professional journalist” have damaged her standing in the eyes of a fair and reasonable person. She seems to view me as a non-entity which is probably correct so I look forward to seeing how she quantifies just how I have damaged her standing in her claim for damages.
Suffice to say, Ms Khan’s bullying and rather silly letter will be ignored as I have told her today. I wonder if City University teaches folks about the Streisand effect.
Notwithstanding her threats, I wish Ms Khan every luck with her career. She will need it for journalism as it is, as Uncle Chris warned me decades ago, a rotten and tough old profession. However, I hope Ms Khan rises to great heights exposing so much which is wrong in these dark times. For what it is worth, she has potential. Prompted to do a quick google search this morning, I stumbled across this piece which is rather encouraging.
Good luck to you Ramsha. But on this matter, enough of the Am Drams, buzz off.
PS. Ramsha and I then exchanged friendly emails in which i wished her luck in her career. But she seems to have spotted that i am a supporter of the Jewish homeland and does not seem to like that. She has just emailed me with a short message:
You’re a loser. Free Palestine bitch.
Oh dear. Do you think it would help if I told her that I am not actually Jewish? Maybe just because I stand shoulder to shoulder with the wicked Jews, I am beyond redemption in her eyes. With views like this, I suggest she applies for a job with the Guardian.