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Tom Nixon

A shining (and hilarious) example of why authenticity matters in blogging


Anna sent me a link to this new blog on the Guardian website. It’s the diary of a 19-year-old about to embark on his GAP-year travels in India and Thailand, hoping for ‘swimming, sunbathing and partying’.

After the first post, the comments start flooding in, and the readers are aren’t unimpressed: “posh 19 year old goes to Thailand to find himself amongst all the other ‘gappers’, and we can follow his every move? wow.”

By the 4th comment, suspicions of nepotism start to appear: “who’s son is Max then? terrible terrible terrible, shame on you guardian”

By comment No. 20, he’s been rumbled: “Well, given that Paul Gogarty is a travel writer for the Guardian, I guess that answers the question about who he’s related to”


The final nail in the coffin is an astute reader who finds an article written by the lad’s father in 2002, about a holiday in Thailand, no less, mentioning his 13-year-old son, who would now be 19.

Game, set, and match.

This is very poor stuff from the normally very social-media-savvy Guardian. And the lesson to be learnt (putting aside the uninspiring subject matter of the blog)?

You can’t out-smart your readers. If you aren’t being authentic, you will be found out by the crowd.

This post was filed under Not for profit, Social media Comments are currently closed.


  1. Not at all dissimilar to what happened to The Times recently:

    Posted 14th February 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Personally the final nail in the coffin was when he slagged off Australian travelers, WTF! Now that totally Freeeeeaakkkks me out.

    Doesn’t he know that it’s going to be an equally as drunk Aussie who is going to teach him how to deal with the “The heat, the roads, the snakes” while he is on tour.

    Ahh well, good luck to him :)

    Posted 15th February 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  3. Two theories circulate in this particular stormy teacup: 1) it is a nepotistic stitch-up 2) it was some kind of strange promotional hoax for E4s ‘Skins’.

    I personally am erring towards the third theory, which is to believe (I know, I must be barmy) what the Travel Editor wrote here in his response to the hullabaloo:

    Given this response, do we still feel as strongly as we did?

    Posted 17th February 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  4. The reality is probably some kind of combination of all three theories and a missing 4th perhaps.

    Posted 18th February 2008 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  5. I read a piece in the Observer last Sunday about this. It did make me feel sorry for the poor lad, but I do think that The Guardian brought this on themselves in the first place.

    Posted 20th February 2008 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  6. Ruth

    Further developments today: David Cox’s piece on today’s CiF tackles the issue head-on, and talks about – among other things – the democratisation of the media.

    The commenters seem to like it…

    Posted 21st February 2008 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  7. You have to feel a bit sorry for the kid, but this is hilarious. The internet is a cruel, cruel place…

    Posted 21st February 2008 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] A shining (and hilarious) example of why authenticity matters in blogging @ Nixon McInnes: Social me… This story has spread very quickly. I think it’s the ‘killer meme’ – exposing untruth. It will be interesting to see how the Guardian’s travel writer reputation is affected by this. (tags: guardian blogging nixonmcinnes pneo001) Posted in daily. [...]

  2. [...] while, and when you’re found out you will be in deep doo-doo. You only have to look at the very recent Guardian blog situation to see that the truth will out, sometimes astonishingly [...]

  3. [...] And yet, within the space of a few days, they’ve gone and made a has of something as simple as publishing a blog about a 19-year-old going travelling. You can see the offending blog and uproar, here. (I picked up on it thanks to the nice people at NixonMcInnes) [...]