Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Student hack (belatedly) bites back!


I can’t help noticing that Eoin Butler has billed this piece as some sort of revenge or competition between myself and himself with his title “Student hack bites back”. I am saying from the outset that I have no intention of “biting back.”

Looking back now, I wish I had chosen to interview someone a bit safer than Eoin for this article. The bottom line is that I thought Mongrel was a hilarious magazine and decided it would be cool to interview one of their writers for this assignment I had.

I remember calling into their offices on Middle Abbey Street to ask if this would be possible. The two guys who were up there both instantly agreed that Eoin would be the man to talk to. They gave me his number and I called him to arrange a meeting.

Eoin was very generous with his time and it was quite a long interview – the first I had ever done and I recall being pretty nervous. I had a massive list of random questions written down in red biro on my DCU refill pad and had no idea how to go about interviewing someone for an article.

Something that did genuinely make an impression on me at the time, which I mentioned in the article, was the fact that he did completely dismiss my small talk out of hand. I think I said ‘Cold enough outside isn’t it?’ and I got snubbed. It put me off saying stuff like ‘Cold enough outside isn’t it?’ for life. So if my conversational skills have improved at all since 2005, I have Mr Butler to thank.

I also have a distinct memory of him telling me that he purposely [non-journalism-related anecdote which could get me in a lot of trouble – E.B.], though that could be another one that I can add to the ‘Made up Quotes’ section.

Speaking of the invented quotes, for what it’s worth, the Creative Zen on which I recorded the interview malfunctioned a couple of days after the interview and I had to write some of the quotes from memory.

I left with a huge respect for Eoin. He was impressive and confident as a person and generally sound out. I genuinely found the whole experience to be a hugely positive one and I still look back on it fondly.

Since finding out what he wrote about me on his blog, I have talked to a lot of my friends about his actions. I suppose it’s fair to say that their opinins about this pretty much reflect my own.

Here is an email I got off a friend about it, which I particularly liked: “I don’t think you should bite back, he’s clearly a cunt. Are you sure the journalist’s lifestyle is still for you, considering that it’s more likely his milk has gone off because he’s been holed up with his laptop slagging off some poor, gormless 19-year-old’s admittedly shitty article, rather than living some non-stop, rock n’ roll ‘journalist’s life’.

“This has actually turned me off him and I used to really like him, being from Mayo and all. But it’s a bit much slagging off your poor, innocent article, that was essentially a fan letter. He’s just mean, I think. He probably wrote some horrendous shit when he was 19, or at least I hope he did, so that also makes him a hypocrite and a curmudgeon and a horrible old bollox.”

An interesting point could also be made here about the way Eoin tends to operate e.g. his publication of my article but also his decision to publish various other articles and emails that were intended for his eyes only and sent to him by normal people in a much less powerful position than he is.

Those with this way of thinking also suggested that Eoin may have written and published so much material in which he slags other people off, that he may have become somewhat desensitised to the effects his publications may have on others.

On the other hand, those who were familiar with Eoin’s work from Mongrel and Slate tended to be of this opinion saying I should have expected that he would do something like publish my article in mockery.

A full-time journalist that I know was fairly shocked by the story, saying that, as an unwritten rule in journalism, those in the profession are expected to encourage and guide youngsters who have an interest in pursuing a career in the media.

When I reflected a bit about this, it struck me that if I had intended to become a journalist, Eoin’s posting of this early effort of mine could have been seriously disheartening, especially coming from somebody I had looked up to and admired.

The author currently works at the European Parliament in Brussels.

[There are a couple of issues we could argue the toss over. But I think this guy is, by and large, right. It was cruel of me to publish his article. The best point, I think, was made by the friend of his who pondered the likely significance of the gone-off milk in my fridge. You are 100% correct, whoever you are.

In my defence, I at no point insinuated that I was leading any kind of exciting rock and roll lifestyle. That notion originated only in the fertile pastures of the author’s imagination! – E.B.]

May 27th, 2011.

33 Responses to “Student hack (belatedly) bites back!”

  1. Rob Says:

    This guy and his pals seem a bit precious.

  2. gueuleton Says:

    Here’s another unwritten rule of journalism – when your Creative Zen malfunctions don’t make up a bunch of quotes!!

  3. emordino Says:

    Yeah, kind of with Rob here. The original piece was undeniably silly, and it didn’t even occur to me that yer man wouldn’t just laugh it off. As for the idea that he might have thrown away a career just because the Big Boys poked mild fun at something he wrote… Jesus wept.

  4. Kate Says:

    Ah in fairness it wasn’t that cruel – you gave of your time and he went off and misquoted you. What you wrote about him wasn’t that bad (apart from the disclosure of the emails – that’s just wrong). But he’d want to toughen up if he really wants to give any kind of profession a good go. Of course his friends were going to say you’re an asshole, that’s what everyone says to their friends where someone is a bit off with them! You always lie and say “yeah, they’re a dick”…or maybe that’s just girls?! I think he could have used the opportunity to publish on your blog to better effect to be honest.

    Another one of those unwritten rules is that before said Creative Zen goes kaput, make sure you back up your recording somewhere else….

  5. Dolly Says:

    “He probably wrote some horrendous shit when he was 19, or at least I hope he did, so that also makes him a hypocrite and a curmudgeon and a horrible old bollox…”

    You’d only be a hypocrite if you’d written some horrendous shit WITH INVENTED QUOTES IN IT when you were 19…

    He does make a good point about you being a cunt though.

  6. Dolly Says:

    Cunt cunt cunt… This blog gets more like Twenty Major every day 😉

  7. Eoin Says:

    @ Kate – re: backup recordings. Tbh I had a similar fuck up in an interview for Irish Times last year. It happened to be someone I knew socially too. Not sure if that made it more or less embarrassing.

    Had to go back to the guys office, go through the interview again, saying “I ask this, and then you said that, and then you said something funny here, to which I responded etc. etc.”

    Pretty awkward…

    @ Dolly – if I believed that I really would shoot myself!

  8. Denise Says:

    Okay, it was a bit cruel, but his name was never revealed and no matter what age you are you should know you’re not supposed to make up quotes when your mp3 recorder goes kaput. I must say I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t see the funnier side of this.

  9. Angela Says:

    Imho its a bit lame to say oh my friends all think you’re a c**t. You gave him an opportunity to explain how he felt but instead he hid behind what other people said.

  10. Incurious George Says:

    Sorry but that’s too long to read for a subject I’m only marginally interested in. Could someone provide a haiku or tweet length summerary?

  11. Kate Says:

    Ah it’s embarrassing alright but understandable and it’s better to be straight up and honest about it that to bullshit your way out of it. You can’t just make shit up about people – especially saying you’d interviewed people you never even heard of and attributing that unfortunate Pat Kenny incident to you!!! If I made shit up about the clients I have to write for I’d get slaughtered, at least he learnt (or maybe he didn’t) that lesson the easy way.

    Maybe he should just go write for the Star or something – they like to make stuff up all the time!

  12. Eoin Says:

    I’m conscious that the comments are a little one sided here. I hope it’s redundant to point this out, but for the record, I’m sure eoinbutler.com is not the most impartial venue in which to canvas opinion on whether or not Eoin Butler is a bollocks.

    If grievances were aired in a neutral forum, I’m sure the majority would agree with Anon. 🙂

  13. MisterAdam Says:

    Yikes! The picture at the top is a little inflammatory.

  14. Eoin Says:

    @ MasterAdam – Ah… My image for the original article (which was chosen to suggest that I’m not necessarily as happy-go-lucky a person as the interviewer had assumed) was a photo of an armed, suicidal emo teen with his mouth sewn closed.

    In that context, depiction of Anon as a student out for vengeance is obviously completely over the top but yadda yadda…

  15. Andrew Says:

    Pretty sure that if someone had interviewed me and then made up a load of guff that I was supposed to have said then i would have had no hesitation in using my blog to take them to the cleaners.
    He was 19.
    Not 13.

  16. Kim Says:

    @ denise

    “I must say I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t see the funnier side of this.”

    I agree but then that’s easy to say when its someone else you’re talking about. if you were the one being made fun of by strangers for something you did when you were 19 you might feel a little bit more angry about it.

  17. Colin Says:

    Is it harsh for him that you posted his overzealous article on your blog? Yeah, sure, it can be embarassing for anybody to have things that they did when they were 19 dredged up for people to have a laugh about. But if you want to be a journalist you better develop thicker skin.

    And there was a legitamate point to the republishing; he embelished, got some facts incorrect and misquoted you. Can I take it when his creative zen bit the dust he didnt get in contact with you again? A bit irresponsible, eh?

    Anyway, nice to see he has friends that rush to his defence, and he has a point about the date request e-mail (though I thought the mail was a joke).

    As for the journalist’s unwritten rule, guiding and encouraging the young, it’s the same for any profession, in an ideal world. And we’re talking on something 4 to 5 years after the fact.

  18. Steve Jobs Says:

    Man, if there’s anything to be learned from this fiasco, it’s stay away from the Creative Zens.

  19. Denise Says:

    @ Kim – But there was no badness in it. He should have taken it in good spirits and responded in kind. Thats my opinion anyway.

  20. stevethomas Says:

    I can’t believe he never answered the burning question. Who the fuck is Kenny Southern??

  21. Eoin Says:

    @ stevethomas – Well, according to Google…


  22. Eoin Says:

    Why put off to tomorrow what you can do today cause tomorrow may never come. I am looking to meet someone that is honest and means what they say when they say it and isnt here to play games, to old for games…played games when you was in school these is the real life now no time for games.

    Man, I kinda wish I had interviewed this guy…

  23. Eoin Says:

    i like coach basketball at the church

  24. Laura Says:

    I don’t think that sticking up for yourself and being a little pissed off about someone not only making you the butt of their joke once, but continuously regurgitating it on their website every couple of months, is being “precious”!
    I love Eoin’s writing and his articles are bloody hilarious, but this has really made me consider the other side of the story. Not one person reading this would appreciate a bunch of strangers ripping into them on the internet…no matter how tough-skinned you are…

  25. Rob Says:

    @Laura, in fairness, he fabricated large parts of an interview and got caught out. It’s funny so we’re laughing at him, and being 19 is no excuse. Also, he hasn’t been named.

  26. stevethomas Says:

    “i like coach basketball at the church”

    Lol! You should actually interview that guy Eoin. Sounds like he’d have a lot of wisdom to pass on.

  27. Fintan Says:

    “Those in the profession are expected to encourage and guide youngsters who have an interest in pursuing a career in the media….”

    Yeah but this is what Eoin did when he was generous with his time & put you at ease & answered all ur questions. He only mocked you because when you put a load of quotes in his mouth h’ed never said. I’m sure if you’d had rang him and said you lost the tape of the interview he’d of talked to you again. You should have took the slagging you got here (which wans’t that bad to be honest) and not complained about it like a baby.

  28. sarah Says:

    Eoin you are the king of internet bust ups!

  29. YankeeMick Says:

    I only come to eoinbutler.com to remind you of your bollox-isity.

  30. Clicking Along The Ledge | Tripping Along The Ledge Says:

    […] #10 Student Hack Bites Back (April 15th) Funny story this. Student hack writes extremely flattering, but also totally made up, profile of me for student magazine. I publish said profile here, replete with sarcastic comments from myself and associates. There is much rejoicing. Months later, student hack drops us a line protesting his cruel treatment at my hands. I offer him right of reply. The rest is history. #9 Holy Crap, Is This The Most Casually Homophobic Article You’ve Ever Read or What? (April 21st) In retrospect, I really wish I had just ignored this piece of invective by hairy-knuckled troglodyte Ian O’Doherty. The guy is a friendless, talentless hack that no one with an ounce of sense would urinate upon if he were on fire. Which is it’s own punishment in a way. […]

  31. Neal Says:

    Spotted the Dylan reference in this one. Nice one, Eoinser. Subtle.

  32. Diarmuid Says:

    I’ve got a bit of an unusual take on this one – basically I was an undergrad around Dublin when Mongrel was in its pomp and chortled my way up and down the bus lanes reading the cunts list and about bands I’d never heard of etc. When you’re in your late teens, or any teens come to think of it, you lap up that cynical kind of humour; reading mongrel was like hanging around with the kids that wouldn’t go near you.

    I found out about this little affair straight from the horse’s (or student hack’s) mouth. Basically I was doing the same internship at the European Parliament as our student hack and got to be great mates with him – together we fulfilled every young boy’s dream in representing Belgium in Gaelic Football and (it raises hairs to think of it!) taking home the Benelux GAA championship. The adoring fans, the loose Eurocrat camogie girls… we had everything.

    Anyway I sent our man on a link to this blog one day on the internal e-mail – as I discovered, since nobody can absolutely tell you to do something “or else” in the public sector, you do fuck all – and that’s how I came to learn of this little controversy in a corner of the blogosphere. I’d be a continuing fan of the blog by the way.

    It’s a funny thing but I always found ‘cooler than thou’ humour hilarious – I mean, it really is as long as you’re not on the receiving end. There’s nothing I love more than a music review where someone’s over-reaching third album really gets torn a new one, and, through all the vitriol there was always a bit of a political conscience about Mongrel, even if it was predictably trendy lefty. So here’s my point, my reaction to the story was “that fucking cunt”. I mean, scenester indie musicians and the likes of Barry Egan deserves all they get, they put themselves out there, but youngfellas doing journalism degrees well, y’know, we’ve all been there haven’t we? It’s not like any nineteen year old needs much to get the old neuroticism blazing.

    Thing is, bad and all as he comes out of this thing, our man is one of the best you’ll meet. He wasn’t even bitter about the whole thing while I was chatting to him; that may sound contrived but it’s true, you’d go a long way looking for someone more laid back. I never thought about it before but the people who come in for a journalistic roasting on a regular basis must hate it. When you know the guy – and believe me I realise how trivial a thing all this is – you immediately dislike the source of the ridicule. Screw you Eoin! And Fuck Creative Zens – I had one of those pieces of shit back then and all the thing ever did was break!

  33. Eoin Says:

    Hey Diarmuid, cheers for the comment. Not my finest hour perhaps, but – come on – it’s funny. No real offense intended or (hopefully) taken by your friend. Eoin.

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