Anton Vowl was one of the country’s most well-regarded bloggers – but only a few people knew who he really was.
That all changed at the Newsfutures blogging event last weekend, co-organised by Bristol NUJ. Asked to appear on the panel, Anton, known to his former colleagues at the Post and Press in Bristol as Steve Baxter, faced a choice, as he put it, either “to stay in the shadows, or to turn up and be myself. It wasn’t easy, but I chose the latter.”
Three days later he revealed his true identity for the first time in the national press.
“It’s time to say: this is me,” he wrote yesterday on the Guardian’s blog, Comment is Free. “I am Steven Baxter, an oafish, lumbering, badly dressed, plump, painfully shy failed writer and not-very-good working journalist, who one day slapped on a new name, took to the keyboard and began writing what I really wanted to say.”
Readers cheered. “Anyone who hasn’t read Enemies of Reason really ought to – it is possibly the best blog out there (and must be a front runner for next year’s Orwell Prize),” said one.
His blog followers said: “This is seriously brave – good stuff.”
Some rejected the change. “I don’t know whether I’ll ever think of you as Steven Baxter. To me you’ll always be a stuffed monkey called Anton Vowl.”
Messages flowed on Twitter all day from thousands of followers.
Steve wrote: “I don’t think I need to hide behind Anton’s name any more, much as it has served me well, and I think it says something positive about the way we see blogging nowadays that it’s less shameful to “come out” as a blogger.”