Thursday, 24 June 2010

What is a Well-Regarded Journalist?

A Whitehall Commonwealth Development Corporation holding a wine and canapés evening sparked a spectacular public relations disaster. Prodded by Private Eye with a mission to attend the event, e-mails were fobbed, and the Eye was told "you were not invited and you won't therefore be admitted"; the reason for this was given that "only well-regarded journalists" from "proper publications" would be admitted

It's interesting to see that Private Eye finds itself in the same deep gray "no man's land" which the bloggers in Jersey - who can be roughly grouped under the name citizen media - have also found themselves, when trying to attend critical meetings such as those held by scrutiny committees

The bloggers therefore find themselves in good company. From this, it seems very plain that part of the antipathy held by official groups is less to do with "accreditation" or being "well regarded" and more to do with the fact that, like Private eye, they cannot be counted upon to be submissive and servile.

In the event, Private Eye responded by holding its own review outside the event handing out a summary of the CDC's worst excesses to arriving guests. After the Eye team were sworn at by the Communications Officer, the guest speaker Bob Geldof agreed that the press censorship was "fokking outrageous" and after a complete climb-down Private Eye reporters were admitted.

Private Eye has never been part of the press lobby and demonstrates, as it bears repeating -- note to Rob Shipley -- that there is a place for an evidence-based but more vocal media outlet of local news. It is a lesson that should give heart to citizen media everywhere.

Private Eye, p5, No 1265

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