March 28, 2007

Guido Fawkes and the News

Guido Fawkes, a prominent blogger, has just done this video for Newsnight criticising the network. Fawkes criticises them for not being hostile enough or for following through scandals enough. I have explained before why I do not agree that the best political journalism is prosecutorial. Many journalists do do good work- but I fear that the influence of the blogs on the net is purely pernicious- it guides journalists more to gossip, more inside the Westminster machine and less to explaining to the viewer the ideas, the policies, the leglislation and the events that we face in our lives. My own personal view is that I would like journalists to explain more- to for instance do features on what the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims are, to do features on what the effect of the Budget might be interviewing economists, to do programs like Adam Curtis's recent flawed effort on liberty recently (at least where Curtis failed, he tried to present something that was interesting). I need that information in order to make an informed choice at the next election- without it I have difficulties deciding how to vote and what to do.


Matthew Sinclair said...

Fawkes sets up a complete straw man. Paxman never mentions the impartiality requirement but in his little bit after Paxman has finished talking Fawkes keeps on going on about it as if that was the centre of Paxman's argument.

Paxman defends the practice of letting his viewers know that government deparments et. al. refused to come on the programme. He argues that it shows that efforts have been made to talk to certain deparments which is important to informing viewers. Fawkes doesn't respond to this at all in favour of pretending that Paxman claims broadcast regulation forces him to do things a certain way.

Gracchi said...

It is a pretty poor piece in my opinion- but I think the bigger issue is more interesting than Guido and the bigger issue to my mind is that it exemplifies an approach to politics where the news is scandal and not policy.

Matthew Sinclair said...

You're right. Sorry for being small-minded. :)

Gracchi said...

No problems- this is a blog proud of its small size so the small minded are welcome. I just don't think there is much point going after the individual- its the trend that is much more important!

El Dave. said...

Michael White was good - he panned Guido Fawkes/Paul Staines - but the point that Staines premised on, that political journalists are too close to politicans, is worth investigating, as White admitted.

not_saussure said...

Victor Navasky, on the legendary journalist I F Stone:

But in short order, although he never attended presidential press conferences, cultivated no highly placed inside sources and declined to attend off-the-record briefings, time and again he scooped the most powerful press corps in the world.

His method: To scour and devour public documents, bury himself in The Congressional Record, study obscure Congressional committee hearings, debates and reports, all the time prospecting for news nuggets (which would appear as boxed paragraphs in his paper), contradictions in the official line, examples of bureaucratic and political mendacity, documentation of incursions on civil rights and liberties. He lived in the public domain. It was his habitat of necessity, because use of government sources to document his findings was also a stratagem. Who would have believed this cantankerous-if-whimsical Marxist without all the documentation?

And as he gleefully explained to a group of Swarthmore students in 1954 (I know, because I was one of them), if you didn't attend background briefings you weren't bound by the ground rules; you could debrief correspondents who did, check out what they had been told, and as often as not reveal the lies for what they were

Rather sounds to me as if Mr Stone would have been an ideal political blogger.