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Nice job you have here… shame if something happens to it

Iain Martin at the Telegraph has made point worth quoting at some length, particularly as readers from outside the UK may be not be able to read the entire article. He writes,

For weeks, print journalists of all kinds – from tabloids to broadsheet – have been trying to explain that the press cannot be free if the state, or parliament, wields power over it. At times it has been as though we are talking a different language from parts of the rest of the population, such has been the bafflement. What could there possibly be to worry about if politicians – even at one remove, through a quango they appoint – essentially authorise, underpin or license press regulation? It would be “independent”, wouldn’t it? Politicians and their increasingly large staffs of spinners, strategists and assorted hangers-on would not dream of using this as a chance to apply pressure, bully, cajole or generally lord it any more than they already do over journalists trying to write uncomfortable stories that involve said politicians.

Step forward Joanna Hindley, Mrs Miller’s special adviser, who has unwittingly just performed the press and her country a great act of service by the way she dealt with a Daily Telegraph reporter who was making perfectly fair enquiries about the rather eye-boggling expenses of the Culture Secretary.

As the Telegraph reports:
“When a reporter approached Mrs Miller’s office last Thursday, her special adviser, Joanna Hindley, pointed out that the Editor of The Telegraph was involved in meetings with the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary over implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson.

“Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about,” said Miss Hindley.
Miss Hindley also said the reporter should discuss the issue with “people a little higher up your organisation”.

17 comments to Nice job you have here… shame if something happens to it

  • Laird

    Pretty stupid, even for a political hack.

  • The Sage

    It just goes to show, the wrong people hang themselves in shame after answering a telephone call.

  • Catherine in Athens

    Couldn’t agree more, The Sage.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Joanna Hindley, Tristan da Cunha is calling you.

  • bgates

    For decades, print journalists of all kinds – from tabloids to broadsheet – have been trying to explain that every single institution in the country can be free if the state, or parliament, wields power over it. Generations later, that is the language spoken by large parts of the rest of the population. Thus the bafflement.

  • admin

    On behalf of Johnathan Pearce:

    bgates is right. As I said the other day – to guffaws of disblief from the usual Eyeores – libertarians should use the Leveson episode as a teachable moment to point out to journalists the downsides of regulation. Call me naive if you want, but ideas tend to advance through two things: having better ideas than the other side; and appeal to self interest.

    Journalists now have a strong self interest in supporting
    a free media, more so than ever before. Sure, some Big Media types might want to shaft small competitors through red tape, but as MSM business models corrode and the internet continues its extraordinary impact, this argument loses force. Now is the time to press hard in favour of “citizen journalism”; to chip away at the conceit of the established media, to encourage new business models, etc. If we don’t seize the opportunity now, it might not be repeated for years.

  • admin

    On behalf of Reconstruct:

    I happened to hear the treatment of this on Radio 4′s PM last night. The treatment was exactly what you’d expect – it’s all a bit of a laugh really, and absolutely nothing anyone could possibly find alarming.

    Given that this treatment was decided by BBC ‘journalists’, we must assume that they’d find it merely a bit of a laugh if ministers tried to lean on them like that over their reporting?

    Of course they wouldn’t – they’d be second to none in their self-righteous disapproval. But of course, since it runs so totally against the ‘narrative’ they’re running on Leveson, it has to be merely laughed off. Can’t think of this as anything but deeply, deeply corrupt.

  • Looks like some comments got lost…

  • admin

    Regrettably so – when Perry wrote “As of this Thursday, Samizdata will temporarily stop updating” he wasn’t kidding – the database was snapshotted at 0830UK, the transition finished by 1800UK on thursday, but migration of the DNS hostname took another 6 or 7 hours. I tried to copy some of them but it wasn’t feasible after hours got late and there were other things I needed to do.

    Hopefully the impact is not too big, and the better technology / lack of ‘smiting’ should make up for it.

  • Oh yes.

    So is this the new URL, final?

  • Oh I see, the same URL. Good luck:-)

  • Miv Tucker

    The price of vigilance is eternal freedom – I cannot be vigilant if I am not free. And this applies no less to the press than the individual.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Natalie Solent:
    Interesting, post – thanks. But for you, I would probably not have read/known about the excellent article by Iain Martin at the Telegraph.
    But what a hoot about Joanna Hindley, Mrs Miller’s “spad” (special adviser). What the spad said would seem to be:

    Pretty stupid, even for a political hack. (Quoting @Laird’s comment.)

    - and other comments seem to suggest the same.

    But supposing (just supposing) that the comment was, on the contrary, deliberate, calculated and very smart. What might that achieve?
    It could achieve what seems to have been achieved in this case – i.e, the provision of exactly the kind of example that was necessary to illustrate the corruption and erosion of freedom you can get by giving the State control over “press freedoms”. It probably couldn’t have been better-timed if it had been planned.
    So, rather than pillory the spad (Joanna Hindley), let’s hold her high with a “Well done!” – regardless of whether she said what she said out of stupidity or cleverness.

  • In this case, I am attributing to Malice, that which can be explained by mere Stupidity.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Darryl: Yes, and I would too under the circumstances – usually.
    But the potential for the rather unkind joke (if you can see it) could be almost too enticing in such circumstances as this.
    Mind you, if it caused her to go and hang herself or something, as seems to be in the news lately, then you might end up in the stocks. Some people can be quite highly strung.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: All
    RE: Hayek Rules!

    Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions–all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced. — A.F. Hayek

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [There is no such thing as an independent press. -- John Swinton, Editor in Chief, New York Times, '53.]

  • Tim McDonald

    What’s the issue here. We are just talking about a few reasonable restrictions on the freedom of the press in the interest of public safety.