Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Tit for Tat

I have just read Tony Blair's lecture on "Public Life", by which he means politics/media relations, given at Reuters HQ in Canary Wharf this afternoon.....

I'm going to compose and post my comment after taking time to compose myself.

Where to start. I'm going to take a very rudamentary approach and cover the bits that irk me one by one. Or I could just express my anger in some other form, I am quite annoyed.

Tony's dissertation covered the changing nature of the media, the proliferation of sensationalist reporting and public perception of both media and politics. All very timely, inter-linked topics but you're not fooling anyone with you're apologetic phrasing Tony..."I've made this speech after much hesitation. I know it will be rubbished in certain quarters. But I also know this has needed to be said". The constant references to politicians afraid of a free/wild press are sickening. If politicians are so scared of backlash, they deserve to be ribbed in the media. Grow up.

But I'm starting back-to-front...Tony kicks off by stating the obvious, talking about the stretched relationship between journalists and politicians, "the relations between politics and the media are and are by necessity, difficult". He goes on to explain to a bunch of journalists the changing nature of their profession, the demands of rolling news and the digital age, as a consquence of which politicians are held to account in real time, as events change. Boo hoo.

Acccording to Tone responsible individuals in all walks of life are scared of the media, it is too vast and fickle to cope with. I think Mr Blair will find that "the media", be it newspapers/magazines in print or online respect public figures who are square with the press. Those who deal with the media in their own way, do not flip-flop about and are not cowed by the potential of bad press, are given the space (and support) to say their piece.

"Most politicians come into public life with a desire to serve". So do most journalists.

Apparently Britian's apathy towards Parliamentary democracy can be put down to reduced political reporting. Charles Moore, ex Telegraph editor and experienced political correspondant, has pre-empted the PM here. On Saturday he wrote an article outlining how coverage at Westminister had become down right dull as MPs are loosing the motivation to debate bills that will sink or float regardless of discussion.

Blair says: "If you are a back bench MP today, you learn to give a press release first and a good Parliamentary speech second". I can tell you without hesitation which the mass media would prefer and it's not the Janet and John style press release.

Then Blair moves to the thorny subject of sensationalism. Shock language is used on a daily basis, making headlines stand out and moulding readers responses. Yup...Sometimes such "impact" is needed, elsewhere it is openly used to spice up stories. Blair talks about the dramatic bent of the media as if its a new thing. Journalists have to eat you know....

"Something that is interesting is less powerful than something that makes you angry or shocked". Not true. Readers soon become attuned to evocative wording (whatever paper they read) . They will only venture beyond the first paragraph if the subject interests them. The power lies in engaging, well written reports.

1 comment:

Jenny! said...

Agreed. If the article, no matter what the headline is, sucks ass...then you stop reading and move on to he next shocker headline! All headlines are shockers...well written jouralism is the way to attract readers and keep them the whole article through!