David Singleton’s circle of invention

This entry was posted on
Friday, August 29th, 2008
12:39 pm and is filed
under Old Media.


Another ‘journalist’ gives his brain a holiday…

On the matter of Tom Watson Vs. David Singleton, I have the following to say:

Just for starters, it’s not a case of Tom being upset that he didn’t have “input in to this diagram”, as if a sea of reliable data accidentally spat out a result that Tom didn’t like… and I sincerely doubt that Tom is miffed that he missed his chance to take part in the creative process.

It is instead a case of David Singleton airing a rumour and presenting it as a fact in the same breath.

Take a look at the diagram produced by Singleton (reproduced here by Sam Coates).

Tom Watson is clearly illustrated as being part of “a formidable network of political strategists and communications professionals working behind the scenes to smooth (David Miliband’s) path to power”, while his call-out box merely states that Tom is “now said to have switched allegiance from Brown to Miliband”.

At a stretch, Singleton might be able to get away with a bit of hearsay (around here he is said to have switched allegiance to the Camden goat-blowing set), but only if the illustration places Tom in a separate ‘maybe’ or ‘unknown’ position outside the network. And it doesn’t. A picture can tell a thousand lies, and all that.

Here, take an even closer look at the diagram. Can you spot any unbroken lines between Tom Watson and David Miliband?

And to those who may *still* be uncertain about what the problem is, I offer this alternative diagram:

David Singleton does not blow goats in Camden or anywhere else as far as I know

David Singleton – who claims to be a journalist and news editor and is therefore subject to the same rules guidelines most journalists and news editors claim to follow – did this thing without consulting Tom Watson. At all.

And yet if you read the article that introduces the ‘circle’ nonsense, you will see that he found the time to extend that courtesy to others *and* note publicly where he tried and failed to make contact (highlights are mine)…

[Psst! Here’s a quick note for people who may not be aware of one very good reason why doing the latter is often important.]

PR Week – Miliband eyes up comms chief for leadership drive

When approached by PRWeek, Collins refused to be drawn on how often he talked to Miliband, saying only: ‘I speak to a lot of people.’ Collins also declined to say whether he would accept a job as Miliband’s communications advisor.

Kestenbaum is a former chief of staff to private equity pioneer and Labour donor Ronald Cohen, and is also close to former Labour Party chief fundraiser Lord Levy.

Miliband is said to have approached Kestenbaum this summer, asking him to forge links with business in return for a key role in his entourage. A source close to Kestenbaum said: ‘He sees himself as Miliband’s chief of staff – a Jonathan Powell-type figure.’

Kestenbaum was on holiday and unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press.

Donnelly is an MEP-turned-lobbyist who is well connected in Labour’s ‘North East mafia’. Labour sources said Donnelly had spoken to Milband about helping to run his leadership campaign in a private capacity. One said: ‘Alan Donnelly is the campaign manager.’

Donnelly was unavailable for comment but issued a statement saying: ‘I am the chair of the South Shields Labour party – nothing more and I don’t believe there is a leadership campaign. The speculation is nothing more than summer mischief.’

And yet none of the above courtesies were extended to Tom when – and I hear this kind of thing is taken quite seriously by most politicians – it was being claimed that his political allegiances had changed dramatically.

I am informed by Tom that this claim resulted in a disruptive and needless barrage of phone calls from lobby journalists wanting to know what the score was.

I think David Singleton needs to start with an apology involving far more honesty and sincerity than his first effort.

Perhaps he would even care to explain why he appears to have sought a response from some MPs and not others.

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