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SEXING UP!

04/02/2004

Un intenso dibattito sul nostro sito: a confronto giornalisti e comunicatori su Alastair Campbell, il rapporto di Lord Hutton, la fine del giornalismo, il trionfo dello spin, quel che resta della libertà di stampa...

Da mesi parliamo del caso Hutton, dello scienziato Kelly, dell'ex comunicatore di Tony Blair Alastair Campbell sulle pagine di questo sito. Come abbiamo annunciato la scorsa settimana e come si è potuto leggere su tutti i giornali del mondo in questi giorni, la pubblicazione del RAPPORTO HUTTON che di fatto scagiona lo stesso Campbell dall'accusa di aver "gonfiato" o "sexed up" alcune notizie ha scatenato discussioni nel mondo dell'informazione e della comunicazione.
In questa piazza virtuale, dove i dibattiti sull'argomento già furono intensi (da questa notizia i link agli interventi principali) dall'estate 2003 in avanti, la discussione offre questa settimana notevoli spunti.
Toni Muzi Falconi ci ricorda che: "Tutti parlano del rapporto Hutton....nessuno del rapporto Phillis, assai più importante per le relazioni pubbliche...."Clicca qui per leggere la sua riflessione e i suoi link a molto materiale utile
Franco Carlini analizza i processi di produzione linguistica del dossier Blair a partire dal settembre 2002Clicca qui per leggere il suo approfondimento
Fabio Bistoncini e Stella Prudente riflettono sul verdetto Hutton e sulla "libertà di stampa condizione indispensabile della spin communication"Clicca qui per per leggere l'articolo, scaricabile in pdf
Patrick Weever, direttore e proprietario del sito www.anti-spin.com, offriva online già dal 30 gennaio un commento da leggere: THE TRASHING OF JOURNALISM AND THE FINAL TRIUMPH OF SPIN. Ve lo proponiamo qui, ma vi invitiamo a consultare www.anti-spin.com per leggere gli approfondimenti posteriori.
The veil is lifted: democracy, not the BBC, is in crisis.Who do we trust now? Where do we turn now?How did we get here?
These are dangerous times and these are preliminary thoughts, which may need to be revised on further analysis. But some things need to be said straight off. The BBC is the finest public sector broadcaster on the face of the earth. Right around the world and particularly, in the poorest countries, and most of all in the cruelest tyrannies, the word of the BBC is close to Gospel. The people of this country are immensely proud of the BBC, as most were proud, and many still are, of the National Health Service.The BBC has made a mistake. In so far as Mr Andrew Gilligan's account of his meeting with the late David Kelly diverged from his colleague Susan Watts' interview there may have been mistakes; certainly when it came to the legal justification for his story Mr Gilligan failed to convince Lord Hutton and one wonders how many controversial stories would fail this stern test. Only Mr Gilligan was present at his meeting with David Kelly.There has been a modest, or maybe significant, cultural falling off at the BBC in so far as Government appointees chose, or allowed, a culture of getting involved in scoop-hunting, which may not be entirely appropriate to a public sector broadcaster. A three sources rule, with all anonymous sources having to be approved by the Editor, would make for fewer scoops but husband precious reputation.That really is the extent of the crisis at the BBC and the Editor may be trusted to adjust things. The departing Chairman of the BBC Mr Gavyn Davies is one of the most straightforward and honourable people I ever met in the City of London. He is lost to the BBC because of this so-called "crisis". Had he kow-towed to his political masters he would not be gone. He is gone because he did not kow-tow. His honourable resignation could yet bear a rich harvest for he has set a standard for the bloodhounds and  the sleaze merchants with their visceral loathing of the BBC.Because of Mr Davies we can now say once again: The culture comes from the top. The buck stops with the top man. Mr Davies was, and is, a good man. His loss is a serious blow to the BBC. Ministers may like to replace him with a pizza king. They should not be allowed to do so. The next chairman of the BBC should be Mr John Neill, the charismatic and thoughtful head of Unipart, who is also on the Court of the Bank of England.It is not difficult to imagine Mr Gilligan's distress. He did what was so natural for him and something he is so good at. He went out and found a scoop. Susan Watts did too but it was Mr Gilligan who brought it to the air waves. With an Editor who insisted on three sources, and a careful examination of any of these which were anonymous, he would have had a more prudent, more hedged but still magnificent scoop. He too was a victim of an over-enthusiastic scoop-seeking culture and if everybody looks honestly in the mirror and the blame is fairly distributed there should be no need for scapegoats.Nonetheless Mr Gilligan should resign,  and preferably resign immediately. In doing so he should stress that he is putting the needs of the BBC ahead of his own personal interests. Then he can get an agent and write his book and make himself a small fortune. Were he minded to donate some of this money to a charity that might make him feel better.Above all he should be honest, or at least as honest as he can be without hurting his colleagues. To act with dignity now will reap a good harvest when calm returns. Likewise anger and bitterness will beget only anger and bitterness. He should not hide. He should take a long holiday in the sun and return to the airwaves, or the TV programmes or newspaper writing as soon as he feels comfortable to do so. He is not in disgrace. He has made a mistake and, amazingly enough, human beings do make mistakes.For Tony Blair there should be compassion too. He is head and shoulders above every political leader in Europe.  Not only that but he has a deputy who is also head and shoulders above every politician in Europe. He has made Labour the natural party of Government. That is an astonishing achievement.Alas, the price has been spin. It has been a necessary price. He saw what the Tory Press did to Neil Kinnock and with the help of the brilliant and utterly committed Alastair Campbell he used spin to neutralise that threat. Winning power is never a pleasant business, shady deals are done, deals an honest man would prefer not to do. Democracy suffers.Mr Blair  wants to do the right thing.  He even wants to do the right thing about spin so far as is possible. Okay, there is a way to act as Solon might have acted  in ancient Greece.Announce today, Mr Blair, that you want no more blood at the BBC and that your most important legacy to this country will be a no-holds-barred Freedom of Information Act and that this will be in the next Queen's Speech.Perhaps it would be helpful, too, if Dr Reid were now invited to clean up the hospitals rather than cleaning up journalism, and if they are not cleaned up and people continue to die of the so-called superbugs, perhaps Lord Hutton could be invited to launch a similarly merciless, but infinitely more necessary inquiry.Michael Howard would be best advised to apologise to Blair. Impugning the Prime Minister's integrity is unpleasant. It reeks too much of the moral high ground, and Mr Howard should never forget that if Labour is the party of spin the Tories have been the party of sleaze. Any man who really knows himself can never judge another.Mr Campbell should be given a peerage for his contribution to the Labour Party. He should contact Julia Hobsbawm about her proposed Institute of Truth and persuade her to change the name to the Institute of Journalism and Philosophy. His memoirs will make him rich enough to return to journalism which is clearly his first love, and now at last he can say what he means and mean it.Let him remind himself too that everywhere journalists are ready to die, and dying, for journalism.  What a difference it will make if just six would live for journalism instead.Meantime it would be helpful if he mended the row with Mr Gilligan with a public handshake and a genuine forgiveness that enabled both of them to move on. Mr Campbell is a big enough man. As is Mr Gilligan.I realise I have wandered from the theme in my headline: perhaps it is better this way.

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