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    Tuesday, 26 June 2007

    Notes on investigative reporting

    There have been a few interesting stories / comments that bear (some more loosely than others) on investigative reporting in the papers over the last few days that are worthy of note. First, the MediaGuardian had an interview with Carl Bernstein (he has just published an unauthorised biography of Hilary Clinton). Its an interesting read. With echoes of Tony Blair's recent complaint about the 'feral beast' that he supposed is (sometimes) today's media, Bernstein suggests that Hilary views the media as being "out of control, hell-bent on personal destruction and manufactured controversy - while ignoring serious issues". The current incumbents of the White House were derided as "contemptuous, arrogant and totally disinterested in the truth... they regard the press as an impediment"; "[they] have no interest in the truth. They believe that truthful information... is treasonous. These people have been mendacious and their dishonesty has been a central component of the most disastrous presidency... probably in our entire history". Does it need to be noted that Bernstein has been criticised for being too close to the Clintons?

    Bernstein also waxed on the Press: "reporters tend to be terrible listeners.... they have usually decided what the story is before they do the interview, and they will choose the one which will manufacture the most controversy. But manufactured controversy is not news". This is a salutary point.

    Entirely unrelated of course, and secondly, it was reported by Pandora in The Independent today that the 'fake sheikh' Mazher Mahmood may soon be be leaving the News of the World as part of the News Group cutbacks. Or is this a cunning Holmes-like ploy to reappear in unexpected guise? Pandora too is sceptical, advising criminals and philandering sportsmen to keep the fizz on ice for now.

    A third story, also in the MediaGuardian, comprised a review of the first six months of the relaunched Panorama programme. Its been nothing if not entertaining - but is that the point? Meantime, the programme has come under fire for its intended - but unauthorised - use of footage from the famous STV documentary on the Treasury from 1997 in last night's edition. The programme was aimed to demonstrate the earth-shattering fact that Brown is himself something of a spinmeister in the face of his recent promises to be straight with the public (Trust Me I'm Gordon... not Tony - which is NOT available here for a short while, due to copyright issues!). The BBC professed to be using the material under the fair dealing doctrine in copyright law.

    Finally, a surprising recent decision of the High Court (Penwell Publishing (UK) Ltd v Ornstien and others [2007] EWHC B5 (QB) (temporary reference)) has resulted in journalists being advised to separate their journalistic contacts from other working contacts in address books (both physical and electronic) and to keep the former in personally-owned listings for fear that their employers would otherwise be able to retain such catalogues should they move on (see here).

    3 comments:

    cearta said...

    Hmmm, not sure about the fair dealing defence here, especially as the wider US fair use defence didn't avail in similar (if rather more extreme) facts in Fitzgerald v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., 2007 WL 1793551 (D. Mass. June 22, 2007) (hat tip William Patry).

    Eoin.

    Andrew Scott said...

    On the 'feral beast' speech, or rather Tony Blair's reflections on public life delivered to an audience at Reuters on 12 June, here are belated links to some commentary:
    Feral? The political pack are a bunch of pussycats
    An audience with Tony Blair
    ‘The fear of missing out means the press is like a feral beast’
    Was Blair right about the press? Up to a point
    What can be done to repair the damage between the media and public life?
    Who's being sensational now, Mr Blair?
    Blair takes on the media 'beasts'

    See also this, picking up an idea alluded to but dispatched by Blair as over-optimistic:
    Internet spells end for political spin, says US web guru

    this parable on the song remaining the same from Adrian Monck:
    Tony Blair and press dictatorship

    and this on moves afoot to play it straighter with the Press on Brown's watch:
    Will Gordon stop the spin?

    Anonymous said...

    see also, this from the Columbia Journalism Review - Feral beast? Try Lemming

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