Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Media 'like feral beast' - Blair

Media 'like feral beast' - Blair
Tony Blair
Tony Blair leaves office at the end of June
Tony Blair has said the media can operate like "a feral beast" and its relationship with politicians is "damaged" and in need of repair.

The prime minister said relations had always been fraught, but now threatened politicians' "capacity to take the right decisions for the country".

The arrival of web-based news and blogs and 24-hour television news channels meant reports were "driven by impact".

Mr Blair also said newspaper and TV regulatory systems needed to change.

In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits
Tony Blair

In full: Blair's media speech

In a speech to the Reuters news agency on public life, he said the media world was becoming more fragmented, with the main BBC and ITN bulletins now getting half the audiences they had previously and newspapers fighting for their share of a "shrinking market".

He said fierce competition for stories meant that the modern media now hunted "in a pack."

"In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits, but no-one dares miss out," he said.

'Unravelling standards'

The result was that the media was increasingly "and to a dangerous degree" driven by "impact" which was, in turn, "unravelling standards, driving them down," he said.

Mr Blair, who will step down as prime minister on 27 June, admitted that New Labour's own attempts to "court" and "assuage" the media in the early days of his government may have contributed to the problem.

He said he had tried to have a dialogue with the media, through measures like on-the-record lobby briefings, monthly press conferences and the Freedom of Information Act.

But, he said: "None of it to any avail, not because these things aren't right, but because they don't deal with the central issue - which is how politics is reported."

He said people in public life, from politics to business, sport, the military and charities, found that "a vast aspect" of their job now was coping with the media, "it's sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity. At points it literally overwhelms".

And he said there was increasingly commentary on the news, which could prove "incredibly frustrating".

"There will often be as much interpretation of what a politician is saying, as there is coverage of them actually saying it," he said.

He said the relationship between public life and the media was in need of repair.

He added: "The damage saps the country's confidence and self-belief, it undermines its assessment of itself, its institutions and above all, it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions, in the right spirit for our future."

Mr Blair concluded his speech by saying he had made it "after much hesitation" and he expected it to be "rubbished", but it "needed to be said - so I've said it".

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Tony Blair has obviously been looking at NowPublic! But it is interesting to see if Crowd sourced Journalism and Citizen Journalism gets dragged into the firing line, Being independent Governments have less control over how and when we can publish news

No comments: