Some blogs (or bloggers) seem to have a very jaundiced view of the accredited media (JEP, Channel Television, BBC Radio Jersey), so I thought I'd add a few thoughts of my own. I don't watch Channel, except the odd extract online, so I cannot really comment with any justification on that outlet of news.
Regarding the Jersey Evening Post, I don't think the idea that they are part of some Island conspiracy really works. They have full length interviews across the political divide - for instance, in recent months, we have seen Philip Ozouf, Alan Maclean, Geoff Southern, Simon Crowcroft.
There is, I think, a degree of distortion in how they report the news, but I don't think that is down to conspiracy, so much as the chasing of eye-catching headlines that sell papers. The headlines are often misleading, and sometimes the background reporting makes a mess of what is actually being said, by oversimplifying matters. I've criticised them on this blog (e.g. burglaries, average wage etc) for precisely that, but not for conspiracy theories. And I am not the only one - two senior Ministers from the Council of Ministers (who I won't name), have replied with emails to me on various subjects on much the same tenor.
I would ask you not to accept blindly all that is written in the J.E.P.
Incidentally, the JEP headline writer has again changed the meaning of what I said to the Scrutiny Panel.
Now if Ministers themselves find fault with the JEP on these grounds, and incidentally, were kind enough to reply and set the record straight in emails to me, then it can hardly be argued that it is an "establishment conspiracy"! I'd put it down to sloppiness. The recently appointed Chief Officer of Health was criticised by what was little more than a cut and paste job from U.K. media, with no consideration of how the one sided reporting would affect the general public's perception.
The degree to which reports can be slanted by headline writing, by over simplifying is considerable. This, I think, is why other bloggers may find - for example - the treatment of Graham Power in the JEP to be one-sided. It isn't really - they cover many news stories in the same way, but we tend to focus on those where we have a vested interest, rather than considering overall coverage.
As far as the political feature writers go, Ben Queree certainly seems to be fairly even handed in his handing out of bouquets and barbed wire, with his wry humour; Fly on the Wall is fun, Peter Body often criticises both the Council of Ministers, and those opposing them (from a businessman's perspective), and Helier Clement, from behind his cloak of anonymity, criticises both establishment and opposition from his shed. Only the leader writer seems to always take the Council of Ministers line, but at least this is written in longer paragraphs; in the old days, it was written in short paragraphs of one sentence, which gave the impression that it was something akin to Holy Writ; all that was missing was the verse numbers. And at least the editor's name (who presumably is the leader writer) is given in the JEP.
If I had a criticism of the feature writers, it would be that they write too much from the point of view of omniscience - they are right, and they know it. Some articles highlighting Island problems without immediate solution would provide a more balanced solution. I remember dear Betty Brooke, who as "Hardbencher" was full of comments about what the States were doing wrong, and yet when she got in, somehow the ability to fix things did not appear nearly so easily to her! Some awareness of the degree to which problems are complex, and not easily sorted out with the wave of a columnists magic wand, would be helpful. Of course politicians too, often want to show they have all the answers, or most of them, so that doesn't help either!
I have had at least one politician (from the Council of Ministers) outline some of the States problems to me (in an email) without saying there is an easy solution (he also said " I am trying to be honest with the public about the realities of the situation although this is not a popular message") and I find that honesty refreshing.
With the JEP, some articles have online comments available, some do not, some letters are accepted of abnormal length (but also often with a contradictory comment that letters must be short!).
To sum up, if I may borrow from G.K. Chesterton, insofar as there are faults with the JEP, they are not faults because of wild conspiracies, but chasing sales:
The old editor used dimly to regard himself as an unofficial public servant for the transmitting of public news. If he suppressed anything, he was supposed to have some special reason for doing so; as that the material was actually libellous or literally indecent. But the modern editor regards himself far too much as a kind of original artist, who can select and suppress facts with the arbitrary ease of a poet or a caricaturist. He "makes up" the paper as man "makes up" a fairy tale, he considers his newspaper solely as a work of art, meant to give pleasure, not to give news... The old idea that he is simply a mode of the expression of the public, an "organ" of opinion, seems to have entirely vanished from his mind. To-day the editor is not only the organ, but the man who plays on the organ. (G.K. Chesterton, All Things Considered)
And let's also be fair - there are lots of other stories apart from the political ones which find their way into the Jersey Evening Post. Life is not all politics - there are good features on Island history, gardening, Island events, what schools are doing, and heroic endeavours, like the three Jerseymen who cycled to Morocco to raise money for charity, or Jersey Live, the Swimmarathon, or the eco-music event. Sometimes those even take the front page.
The JEP does provide a good service to the public in reporting on those too, or putting in requests for help by charities, event organisers or even ordinary individuals.
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