Saturday, August 15, 2009

Churnalism

The Guardian's headline today was about Tory Shadow Chancellor George Osborne attacking City bonuses.

This was based on an interview by John Harris. Now, I quite like John Harris - I think he's a good writer and has a good feel politically for a lot of the audience that he's writing for.

But I am certain that he knows less than I do (which is very little) about different models of financial regulation and how the Tory proposals for revamping the regulation of the financial sector would enable them to prevent banks from handing out big bonuses. Harris is also a sucker for any argument about how even the Tories are defying stereotypes and making New Labour look timid and in the pockets of the rich.

The result was a front page headline which was very favourable to the Tories - mission accomplished for the Tory spin machine.

But surely if the Guardian is going to be interviewing the man who would be in charge of economic policy and public spending if the Tories win power, they should have sent someone who knows about these things, rather than a music journalist-turned-generalist political commentator? The Guardian has an excellent economics editor in Larry Elliott, who predicted many of the current problems in the economy years before they happened, and would have actually been able to have a sensible discussion with Osborne about the regulation of bonuses and his regulatory proposals.

George Osborne's PR people would have known before the interview that he could make the announcement about bonuses, that it would be reported, and that Osborne wouldn't have to face any expert questioning or challenge about whether there was any substance to what the Tories would do differently. It's an example of what Nick Davies calls 'churnalism', where politics gets reported at only the most superficial level.

2 Comments:

At 6:23 pm , Blogger Quietzapple said...

Its PR, George's only suit, and the Guardian would use it to distract attention from the NHS badmouth scandal.

Even on Douglas Carswell MP's blog people are quitting the tories, saying they will not be voting tory & etc.

 
At 8:16 pm , Blogger Quietzapple said...

I think the clearest turning point in the transition of the Guardian from verging on anti Labour to pro Conservative came when Polly Toynbee spouted a couple lengthy blogs aimed at Labour, and the threads were permitted to balloon for days, and then she wrote this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/26/local-government-class-equality?plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:e2887ff3-b3b2-480a-9e59-332fc2daa2af

which includes survey results showing considerable satisfaction with the NHS and loads more.

They stopped the thread after about 80 comments, instead of leaving it to run to over 1,000.

The Guardian had been turned.

 

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