Archive for the ‘Guardian’ tag

Why so little coverage of new Press Complaints Commission chair?

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A new chair of the Press Complaints Commission was announced on Friday. I say announced, though perhaps whispered would be a better description.

The Financial Times reported the news that Baroness Buscombe is to take over after Sir Christopher Meyer steps down at 17.03 on Friday. The Media Guardian followed this up with a piece at 18.35 – about half an hour after most people have turned off their PC’s and have headed off to enjoy their weekend.

The following morning the Press Complaints Commission added the news to its website (though the press release is dated 14th November). The FT ran another hundred words on Saturday. The Times buried it in the Business section’s ‘Need to Know‘. There was no mention of it in today’s media sections and, most curiously of all, the PCC did not even notify the people on its mailing list (including me).

Why such limited coverage? Baroness Buscombe will be the first woman to run the industry body, and will take over from the controversial Meyer after two full terms in office. She will have responsibility for press self-regulation at a time when it is very unclear about its future, and under threat from State regulation (via the internet), legal precedent (particularly with regards privacy law), and the economic crisis in the news industry. Even Sir Christopher Meyer said last week that the PCC may not survive if the industry chooses to go ahead with ‘swingeing budget cuts‘.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know more about her, about how and why she was chosen, and about the issues she will face when she takes up her new position?

Instead, the most detail provided by the press comes from Media Monkey, which tells us:
‘She is a Tory peer, and has been a frontbench spokeswoman in the Lords, which some may find little surprising (her most-admired politician is Oliver Letwin); favourite TV is Scrubs; her hidden talent is being “a bit of an actress”; her desert island objects, also according to Campaign magazine’s helpful guide, the A-List, are “Green & Blacks chocolate, an iPod and Mitsouko by Guerlain”; and the blue baroness reckons Meryl Streep should play her in the film of her life’

Written by Martin Moore

November 17th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

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Surveillance and the contradictions of our liberal media

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Is the liberal media horribly hypocritical? That was David Goodhart’s contention on Friday, in the panel discussion we co-hosted about ‘Orwell, ID cards, the citizen and the State’.

At the same time as publishing masses of editorials lambasting the government’s plans to collect information on individuals, Goodhart said, papers like the Guardian run frequent news stories about convictions secured by CCTV cameras or DNA evidence.

The trouble with social democrats, Goodhart continued, is the lack of consistency in their arguments. You can’t argue for a national welfare state with special benefits for its citizens and then argue that its citizens need provide no information in return. If you’re a genuine civil libertarian and want a tiny State then fine, oppose ID cards. But you can’t have both big government and absolute freedom, says the editor of Prospect.

Not shy of being controversial, Goodhart went further, arguing that we don’t have nearly enough CCTV cameras, and that instead of an ID card scheme we should just go straight to biometric testing and each be given an ID number / barcode. Sounds more like Minority Report than 1984.

To test some of his claims I had a quick search through broadsheet coverage of CCTV cameras over the last year. He’s right about the editorials. Lots of pro civil liberty arguments in Guardian / Observer / Independent. But less right about CCTV and convictions – there aren’t many articles praising the value of CCTV footage. What there are mind you, are a number of articles about alleged police racism after officers have been caught on camera (‘Scotland Yard caught up in race row… police sargeant recorded saying Somalian needs a “good beating”‘, 7/7/07; certain Greater Manchester police alleged to be member of BNP based on CCTV footage, 8/5/07).

Surveilance policing the police. Does a double negative make a positive?

Written by Martin Moore

December 3rd, 2007 at 1:34 pm

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Existential angst in Edinburgh

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A piece I’ve written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free about Jeremy Paxman’s MacTaggart lecture:

Fuelled by pipe tobacco and past experiences of mescalin, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a play – Les Séquestrés d’Altona – in which one of the lead characters appeals to a court of crabs to judge his actions and his guilt. The crabs were meant to signify both his peers and posterity, and the appeal is symbolic of the ethical dilemmas we face and of our need to be judged (I think, although the exact meaning of the play is famously obtuse).

I was reminded of Sartre’s existential angst by Jeremy Paxman’s MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival – Never Mind the Scandals: What’s it All For? In an atypically reflective, but reassuringly spiky critique of the television industry, Paxman appealed to a court of his peers to “rediscover a sense of purpose”, to do “less hyperventilating and more deep breathing”. We need more cogitation and rumination, Paxman said, and less herd-like stampeding for media “impact”.

For the rest of ‘TV: fading to a dot?‘ (not my title by the way), go to http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/martin_moore/2007/08/tv_fading_to_a_dot.html

Written by Martin Moore

August 31st, 2007 at 12:09 pm

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Does Channel 4 provoke debate or debase it?

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Channel 4 likes to provoke controversy and is very good at doing it. It often sparks public debates which can be immensely healthy. But is it fair to provoke controversy by blatantly misleading the public on an issue as significant as climate change?
2.5 million people watched ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle‘ last Thursday night on Channel 4 (me included). In a slickly produced 95 minute documentary, 2.5 million people were told that there was not a correlation between CO2 and global warming; that there was a close link between sunspots and temperature rises; and that the unexplained discrepancy between temperatures in the lower atmosphere and those on earth undermined the arguments for man-made climate change. A cast of scientific experts were lined up who told us that the IPCC consensus had been manufactured and that that there was a global conspirarcy of scientists, governments and media trying to fool us into believing climate change is happening.
Since then it has been reported that Martin Durkin (the producer) and his production company (Wag TV) faked data, manipulated charts to prove correlations where none existed, failed to report where theories had already been discredited, and misrepresented the views of some of the participants (see Stephen Connor and George Monbiot)
Channel 4 has defended the film – on the Today programme and in The Guardian (Hamish Mykura letter). As always, the Channel’s main defence is that ‘The debate the film has started is to be welcomed’. But when the debate is based on false evidence, on misrepresentation and on a failure to give any context it is not an informed debate. If anything, by commissioning documentaries like this Channel 4 degrades debate and makes it more difficult for anyone – sceptics or otherwise – to have a proper discussion.

Written by Martin Moore

March 14th, 2007 at 1:45 pm

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