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Page last updated at 08:16 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 09:16 UK
Are satirists getting 'snarky'?

Michael Portillo with Spitting Image puppets
Television programme Spitting Image used to offer the most cutting satire

Is the tone of public debate getting nastier?

The author David Denby has coined the term "snark" to define, in his own words, a "low, teasing, nasty snide, undermining personal insult that is lazy and parasitic".

It is a style of language encouraged by the new hybrid world of print, television, radio, and the internet.

It lacks, Denby says "the authority of agreed-upon facts and a central narrative of what's going on in the world".

Toby Young, author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, entirely disagrees.

He wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal questioning Mr Denby's motives.

"An attack on snark can sound awfully like a howl of displeasure by a member of the Old Guard who has just woken up to the fact that there has been a seismic power shift in his profession. It doesn't help that Mr. Denby is 65.

"Mr. Denby sounds like a retired country-club president railing against the younger club members for not observing the proper decorum."

So is questioning the language and tone of the internet old-fashioned, or is the internet a place where, as Mr Denby puts it, "only the many niches and bat caves from which highly colored [sic] points of view fly wildly like confused vectors?"


Do you have any examples of "snarky" writing? Do you think the internet has changed the tone of journalism? If so, get in touch.

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