Indy-Gate Scandal at Independent

The Indy-gate scandal is gathering momentum in the media following Kelner’s un-apology.
  • Dan Hannan in the Telegraph is derisory about the Indy’s misinformation.
  • Roy Greenslade in his widely read (by hacks) Guardian blog returns to the issue for a second time.
  • James Forsyth over at the Speccie’s CoffeeHouse wonders “What would The Independent say if another newspaper had done the same on Iraq?”
  • Iain Dale doesn’t think this over yet. “Not by a long way.” Nor does Guido.
  • Melanie Phillips thinks Indy-gate “a practice associated with the unfree press in totalitarian societies. Once again, the blogosphere has shown its power to hold the mainstream media sharply to account and inflict real damage to its reputation.”
150_not_indyThe newspaper’s readers surely deserve to know the truth. Is it now the editorial policy of the Independent to reprint lengthy government press releases word-for-word if Andy Grice* agrees with them? Shouldn’t the Indy flag up when it is re-printing government press releases – “This information was supplied by the government, we are reprinting it in its entirety on the front page because we agree with it.” Perhaps a little “Government Approved” logo would suffice?

*According to Simon Kelner “what we printed was a collection of facts, which our political editor independently verified.”

Indy-gate : Issue is About Journalistic Ethics, Not the EU

The Indy’s editor-in-chief Simon Kelner, attempting to defend the reprinting of an FCO press briefing as original journalism, claimed that “The Eurosceptics, who have monopolised this debate for so long, appear to be shooting the messenger because they don’t like the message… I am completely unapologetic about our attempt to explode the myths that have been allowed to develop in what has been an extremely one-sided debate…”.
This is an attempt to distract from the substantive issue – which is a question of journalistic ethics. No one can accuse the Indy of being one-sided on the issue, they have laughably flipped and flopped on the referendum issue:

18 June – a leader calling for a referendum, “The question is whether or not a package of fairly weighty changes that will undoubtedly affect Europe’s shape and destiny should – in this country at any rate – be decided in a referendum. The answer is simple: it should and it must.”25 June – a leader opposing a referendum,

“Having dangled the prospect of a referendum last week, Mr Brown was right to bat it smartly away.”12 September – a leader calling for a referendum,

“The case against a vote on the treaty is weak. The Government’s argument that the new European treaty is significantly different from the European Constitution that was rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005 is unconvincing. The name may have changed but it is essentially the same document on which Tony Blair promised a national plebiscite shortly before the last general election… This newspaper wants a referendum for different reasons.. Rather than trying to evade the moment of truth, Mr Brown should concentrate his energies and those of his Government on campaigning for a yes vote.”18 October – the piece

cut ‘n pasted from the FCO briefing opposing a referendum.Source : OpenEurope.org

Kelner’s credibility on this is zero. We can completely ignore the Indy’s position on the EU Referendum, it is as irrelevant as it is changeable.In America, where journalists take professional ethics more seriously, there would be resignations if a journalist plagiarised a government briefing wholesale. The substantive issue here is not whether the Indy is for or against a referendum, it is whether the Indy is a credible source of honest independent journalism, or a rag which reprints press releases uncritically. Which is it? Indy readers have a right to know if they are being peddled government spin as independent journalism on the front page.

Indy-gate : Fax Over A Press Release -If It Is True, We’ll Put It On the Front Page

The Indy’s editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner has finally given a comment to the Guardian :

“What we printed was a collection of facts, which our political editor independently verified. The source doesn’t really make a material difference. What matters is whether those facts are accurate or not. And no one, as far as I can see, is doubting the truth of what we printed.”

Neil O’Brien, who spotted Indy-gate, is not so sure about the somewhat partial “facts”. The only sure fact is that a government press release was presented to Indy readers as original journalism. It wasn’t original, it wasn’t journalism. It was almost word-for-word a reprint of a government briefing.

The paper’s staff might be embarrassed, but Kelner should be ashamed – he has discredited the name “The Independent”.

Comrade Maguire’s Obsessive Maggie Death Fantasy

The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire has a pseudo-working-class-warrior writing style requiring him to always refer to “Druggy Dave” the Bambi-killing Etonian toff. His incisive analysis of the political dynamic clearly owes a lot to a youthful close reading of the Beano. In his columns he talks down to his readers in a patronising style that assumes Mirror readers are stupid in a manner that, by way of contrast, Richard Littlejohn would never dream of doing. It is not a style that he uses in the Guardian or the New Statesman. It is all good knock-about stuff, Maguire is after all a Labour party propagandist first and a journalist second. He is, without doubt, far better at the former than the latter.

His pathological hatred of the Tories becomes totally unhinged when it comes to Margaret Thatcher. Time and time again he shares his death fantasies with readers. Today again, under the pretext of a theatre review, he reminds us that he will celebrate her death. He describes her as a harridan who should not be afforded a state funeral. His poisonous “death to class enemies” attitude reveals all you need to know about Kevin Maguire’s politics and nature. In another time and place you sense that as a commissar he would have happily dealt out revolutionary justice to class enemies – with a bullet.

Dacre’s Breakfast with Brown

Guido overheard last night a smirking Labour MP boasting that Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, had breakfast with Gordon yesterday. Which perhaps explains the discordant leader comment this morning. It actually praises Darling’s tax and spending plans.
Guido understands that Dacre told a rebellious editorial meeting yesterday “I couldn’t give a toss what you lot think.” Lord Rothermere, the Mail’s owner, on the other hand might well give a toss. Particularly in view of the recent circulation slide…

Mirror’s "Red" Rosa Joins the Daily Labourgraph

After the virtual collapse of the Telegraph’s political team, the new direction the Telegraph is taking will have traditional readers choking on their toast. The latest hire is Rosa Prince from the Mirror. She will, says the Telegraph, add a “new dimension” to their reporting.

You bet she will if previous form is anything to go by…

The Daily Labourgraph

The Telegraph is a shadow of what it used to be, it was the unofficial house journal of the Conservative Party. Of late it has changed complexion, it is seems no longer a critical friend but a hostile enemy of Dave’s party. ConservativeHome is now the unofficial house journal of the Conservative party. The Telegraph has no distinctive voice anymore, it seems (with some exceptions) instead to have a number of left-wingers who hate Cameron plus, for balance, some right-wingers who despise Cameron. Could it have something to do with this explanation by Stephen Glover?
A new understanding was broached. Mr Brown was keen to end the air of hostility. The Telegraph political side was full of Tories and the odd Blairite. Brownites were thin on the ground, if there were any at all. The Prime Minister proposed a fresh start that would lead to the paper being within a loop from which its unsympathetic attitude had previously excluded it. This means, we may assume, that it would be given stories.

We would be very rash to link this or any other exchanges with the subsequent appointment of Mr Porter, a political journalist on The Sun, as the Telegraph’s political editor in place of George Jones. It is very possible that Mr Porter had already been identified and hired. Mr Jones was certainly due to retire. We should note again, though, that Mr Porter is well known to Damian McBride, as he is to Ed Balls, Mr Brown’s right-hand man. And we cannot overlook the fact, as I mentioned last week, that the Telegraph’s political coverage has recently been friendlier to Mr Brown than it used to be, though it is by no means ecstatic.

Here is another extraordinary fact. The Daily Telegraph was organising a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference, on whether there should be a referendum on the new European Treaty. The meeting had been publicised. Speakers, including the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who is in favour of a referendum, had been lined up. Then, at the last moment, the event was cancelled by Mr Lewis.

Again, we would be unwise to jump to conclusions. It is nonetheless a plausible theory – I will put it no stronger – that Mr Lewis was persuaded by the Brown camp (the Prime Minister being adamantly opposed to a referendum) that any debate on the issue at a Labour Party conference would be unhelpful, and at odds with the understanding Mr Brown had arrived at with Mr Lewis. What other explanation could there be?

Well?

Circus Master Cracks His Whip

The Sun is running this morning, over seven pages, an all out campaign for a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty. Guido senses that Murdoch is reminding the performing political monkeys who the real circus master is, and that he can really crack the whip if need be.

Click to enlarge.

It is The Sun at its finest, politics with humour, accessible and witty. Kelvin Mackenzie would be proud…

Incidentally, Guido will be getting his chance to vote “No” – in Ireland.

When Commissioned Polls Go Wrong

Dods, the parliamentary publisher, has been around for 170 years and the 21st century seems a bit bewildering for them. Well aware that political blogs are eating them for breakfast, they commissioned an ICM/Dods poll to ascertain what is

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Splitter! Splits! Hooray!

Political correspondents can breathe a collective sigh of relief. As we exit the substance desert that was the silly season they can now start writing “party split” stories.

Keith Vaz, a former minister for Europe, is calling for a referendum

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Blog Today, Print Tomorrow (Again)

Iain Dale has alerted Guido to the fact that the blog post on Huhne was recycled in the newspaper diaries this morning. Guido doesn’t usually read ’em, but they clearly read him…Peter McKay’s Ephraim Hardcastle in the Mail even

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Undercover Journalist Uncovered by Google

Iain has a story about the Daily Mirror Caught Trying to Infiltrate Conservative HQ with a posh girl. She came unstuck after they Googled her name and came up with her Mirror byline, then they checked the source of her

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former Labour MP Dame Anne Begg:

“[Iain Duncan Smith] took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair. Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.'”

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