Are curmudgeonly old hacks in the newsroom a good thing?
In my opinion they are. I would even go further and demand they are in the newsroom.
I am prompted to make this plea after reading two particularly interesting stream of comments on blogs on UKPG and the Meeja Guardian.
In a nutshell both contain criticism and immediate defence of two veteran newsmen. One is described as a "a repulsive bully and a dinosaur - the type of which is, luckily, dying out in british (sic) newsrooms". The other "tough and abrasive" and a "handful".
This is exactly what our increasingly clinical newsrooms need.
One reporter's bully is another's mentor. One's abrasion is another's passion.
The interesting thing about these so called 'dinosaurs' is there is more support for their type of journalism than their detractor's condemnation of their style.
And, in the case of one, support comes from some seriously heavy hitters.
I love grumpy old bastard hacks. I always have.
Jesus, I should, I will be one soon.
I don't care they are rude, or upset people. I love it.
After all, with sometimes more than thirty years in the business don't you think they deserve the right to moan? Most of you are bitching after just 18 months in.
Their experience and contacts alone are worth five cocky young 'uns who think they can change the face of journalism in their first year after leaving college clutching a grubby media and communications degree (2:2 clearly).
You can learn more from a 'dinosaur' in ten minutes than you can in a month from your 24-year-old news editor who got the promotion because he happened to be the only senior in the office during the recruitment freeze.
Dinosaurs generally drink too much, have little or no desire to conform, hate the management and take a lot to get motivated.
They have been there, done that and got the free t-shirt from the PR.
But get them excited about a tale and watch the show.
The distinction must be made, however, between the passionate, ageing hack and the old fart destined to be taken outside and shot.
Both may be equally cantankerous, awkward and obnoxious.
But one still loves the job and is invaluable and the other is an old fart who should have been fired years ago but now it will cost too much. Management are just hoping they will die soon.
I don't like their negativity and I don't like their stink.
For the truly great old hacks treat them like you would a flea bitten yet cuddly, slightly lame, dog.
Take the piss and poke them all you like but don't be surprised when the evil fucker bites you.