This entry was posted on
Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at
3:32 pm and is filed
under Old Media.
(Pardon my tense… there’s a few things I’d like to put in the past.)
For the benefit of the archive:
This post first went live when the Dunblane/Express petition was delivered, as elements of the mainstream media made false claims about G20 protestor violence on par with Hillsborough. At that time, it was mostly beyond the remit of the PCC to do anything about an article that wasn’t about you personally, and the libel laws were mostly a set of tools for rich bullies wishing to silence critics while denying them their day in court.
Recent events showed that few newspapers allowing comments were publishing any criticism of substance, and they rarely if ever engaged under comments, which is an entirely un-blog-like thing to do, and certainly not on during a phase where mainstream media companies were trying to horn in on the blogging action while rubbishing the reputations of those in their way (i.e. us).
Further, a combination of economic forces and selfishness was leading to widespread sackings and an alarming downturn in quality, as profit was shoved ahead of the public interest more often and to clearly unacceptable extremes.
On this blog/week alone, I found myself chasing editors of The Times, The People, the Daily Star, The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Express, the Sunday Express, The Scottish Sun and even The Independent with really quite valid concerns, but hearing back from none of them, presumably because ‘more money’ equals ‘better than’.
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Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve all seen the recent/sudden downturn in the quality and reliability of mainstream news and comment, coinciding with alarming outbreaks of carelessness and sheer malice in some places.
We’ve got at least one rogue publisher (Richard Desmond) thumbing his nose at the PCC, and while every news outlet is begging us for chunks of our private lives that they can publish for profit (with or without our permission), no bugger will answer our emails or address our concerns when something that is clearly false has been published, and no effort has been made to remove, correct or (Dog forbid) alert readers to the error. Meanwhile, pretty much the same applies to the (blissfully) few ‘leading bloggers’ who claim to be challenging the establishment.
The only news outlet that’s in any way compelled to answer is the BBC, who find themselves crippled since Andrew Gilligan shot off his fat gob, and under constant attack by the same parties described in the previous paragraph (i.e. those who demand accountability of others, yet think themselves above it).
Clearly the time has come for us to form organised squads and start hitting people with sticks.
If you’re of a mind to do something positive and powerful about outright lies in the media, I invite you to join the Media Watch Rock-a-Hula, now in progress.
Much like Sun Lies and Mail Watch, the job (described in detail here) is to target outright lies, document them where possible (on your own site if you wish), and pursue a correction with vigour when circumstances call/allow for it.
While I expect this to be a modest-sized crowd with maybe a few dozen experienced/dedicated bloggers, writers and researchers on board at first, there are roles that pretty much anyone can play.
Yes, even you.
You could easily be that one person in a thousand with the right expertise, contacts, access or influence required to get a specific job done quickly, and if not, someone has to carry the pitchforks and kerosene.
Anything you do will be on a strictly voluntary basis and you can do it with or without a website. You’ll probably even learn a few things as we go along, and as natural talent groups form within the crowd (as they usually do), we can casually give birth to little beasties like the long-overdue Express Watch and more.
And it is with that (and that only) in mind that you should join me on Twitter, as that is all I plan to use it for:
More sign-up options (e.g. a mailing list) to follow. Comments and bloggage welcome.