Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ten Years Ago Today:
Drudge Ended the Reign of the Media Gate-keepers

On the night of January 17, 1998, Matt Drudge revealed that Newsweek editors had spiked a story about Bill Clinton and an intern named Monica Lewinsky. His story ended once and for all the gate-keeper ability, if not the mentality, of the mainstream media elite. He later said “We are all newsmen now.”

It was denied. He was derided, attacked for his political views, and for working out of a $600-a-month rented Hollywood apartment. He was right. Today his website reputedly makes him $500,000-a-month and Drudge lives in an exclusive penthouse in Florida.

Love him or hate him, you can’t dismiss him. Having been accused of emulating Drudge, all Guido will say is – “you bet!” As a fan and voracious reader, Guido is happy to say he has learnt a lot from the master – namely what matters if you want to be a news maker:

  1. Content. Original relevant content. Go get the story.
  2. Don’t follow the herd. Have a clear unique online personality.
  3. Updating regularly is hard work, if you have nothing new to say, nobody will read you. Link to hot news at least.
Conventional journalists in the MSM have shifted from sneering to fearing, from deriding to envying. Technology means that any talented trouble maker with a modem can achieve Karl Marx’s dream: ownership of the means of production and distribution. The internet requires no printing presses, delivery vans, distributors or news stands. No editorial restrictions, no proprietor, no once-a-day news cycle.

Drudge has millions of readers and more influence than any other single newsmaker in America. Ironically his ability to direct reader traffic means he is now probably the biggest gate-keeper to conventional journalism today. The Pew Research Centre produced some data on the influence of news sources on the 2008 Presidential campaign. When they asked where Americans got their campaign information online, after the internet portals the New York Times website (6%) was the most cited source, confirming that it is after all the most influential paper in the free world. Second came the Drudge Report (3%), not bad for a three man operation (one of whom is based in London) and way ahead of the Washington Post website (1%). The twentieth century reign of the MSM gate-keepers is over.

Matt Drudge’s greatest achievement was not exposing Bill Clinton, it was deposing the MSM. Guido salutes you Matt, you made him a newsman.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Odd Couple

Telegraph TV asked Guido to appear on their new online politics channel. They couldn’t afford him, so you will have to make do with the wisdom of Widdecombe. Heffer and Dale will also be going head-to-head. Two Essex boys made bad…

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

BBC Invade America, Taxpayers Only Casualties

As Speedbird pointed out in the comments earlier, the BBC has Jonathan Beale, Justin Webb, Kevin Connelly, Matt Frei, Jon Sopel and David Grossman covering the primaries.
All reporting on the same thing, all giving the same (incorrect) analysis. Actually to be fair, David Grossman for Newsnight was different, telling us how he’d accidentally put diesel in the car and even filming his own cameraman and producer. At any minute he seemed to be on the verge of saying “Hello mum, I’m in America, on the telly!”

Does the duplication of efforts produce anything of value? Well it gives us clear evidence that the BBC has no budgetary discipline, massive over-staffing and a lot of West Wing fans in News & Current Affairs.

The BBC is hardly likely to get a scoop unless it can track down Steve Morgan, Peter Hain’s fundraiser who is in hiding, hopefully doing for Hilary what he did for Hain…

UPDATE : Comment makers point out that Simon Mayo is a long way from the Radio 1 Roadshow, he is reporting the primaries for 5 Live. Radio 4’s Jim Naughtie is there as well. Kevin Connolly is padding out 5 Live’s coverage as is somebody called Rhod Sharpe. Jonathan Marcus and James Coomarasamy are covering for the World Service.

Any more Beeboids across the Atlantic?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

£24,000,000,000 of Public Money is a Matter of Public Interest

Yesterday the FT lost a High Court battle to publish the investment memorandum being circulated in the City for Northern Rock. In it was revealed that by the end of this year £24 billion will have been borrowed from the Bank of England by Northern Rock.

It also revealed that possible options might involve continuing public money supporting the private company for years. These are vast sums under consideration. Gordon Brown refused to answer legitimate questions from Vince Cable about this yesterday. Northern Rock injuncted the FT, and got the memo removed from a U.S. hosting service where it had been uploaded yesterday.

It is public money and the public have a right to know what is going on, as incidentally do shareholders because arguably there is currently a false market in the shares. The reasons for this being suppressed are not commercial, they are political. Everybody in the City already knows what is in the memo. The government just doesn’t want the political embarrassment. Schillings are acting for Northern Rock trying to suppress the memo, which is all over the internet. One copy which might last longer is being hosted in India on Yahoo. Their offices in Mumbai will be closed by now, so Schillings might find it difficult to get it removed quickly. Don’t worry if it goes missing, another will pop up somewhere like China or Australia.

UPDATE : Link is now dead, traffic overwhelmed bandwith limits. working. It will no doubt pop up somewhere else.

UPDATE II : Schillings got the Indian site deleted. You can still find the memo here www.Banks-Implode.com, and many other hosts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No M’Lord

The FT may have lost a High Court battle to print the Northern Rock investment memo, Gordon somewhat pathetically at PMQs claimed it was “commercially sensitive” information to get him off the hook discussing it. Vince Cable lashed into him when he made that “absolutely bogus” claim. £24 billion of taxpayers money on a bail-out is a legitimate matter of public interest.

It is definitely not secret any more. Guido told you 4 hours ago where it could be found online in the U.S., it is as of now the top Google search result for Northern Rock Summary. You can’t keep politically expedient secrets in an open source world…

UPDATE : Our old friends Schillings are at it again. No Pasaran!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Media versus Old Media

The news that the Telegraph lost £10m last year encourages Guido to believe that in the coming years the truth will slowly dawn on loss making media moguls. Comment is just a click away. Good quality comment is free of charge at places like ConservativeHome, PoliticalBetting and UK Polling Report. The value of your paper pundits will therefore decrease to zero. The “we know best” gatekeeper mentality just won’t do.

To all those media executives shaking their heads, don’t forget that this blog is more profitable than the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian combined. Better value for readers as well…

[See also Henry Blodget's fisk of a speech from AP's Tom Curley.]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Even Mark Thompson Admits BBC Ridiculously Over Staffed

Guido has been accused of relishing the reduction in the headcount at the BBC. That is unfair and a gross misrepresentation of the true position. He feels their pain. Guido is not relishing that pain, he is too busy celebrating. Loafing Beeboids are (after the Houses of Parliament) the biggest identifiable group of readers from Guido’s server records. Do some real work you mongs…

The BBC boss Mark Thompson made a revealing comment, he said that following the announcement of staff reductions he had “one interview request from ITN, one from Sky and 37 from the BBC”. All asking the same bloody questions…

UPDATE : On the Sky News blog Jon Craig points out that the Beeb has in Brussels today; Chief Political Editor Nick Robinson, News 24 Chief Political Correspondent James Landale, Newsnight Political Correspondent David Grossman, Radio 5 Live Political Correspondent John Pienaar, Europe Editor Mark Mardell. All at the same press conference, with their production teams, running up expenses….

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Further Reflections on that Blair Speech

Guido’s instant reaction to Blair’s speech is below. Having now re-read the speech it seems a reasonably accurate analysis of the state of media coverage of politics. The problem is that Blair has to a great extent brought this upon himself, contemporary politicians have got the media coverage they deserve. It is not really a development borne out of technological advance, the cynicism is their own creation, not a product of technological change or 24/7 rolling news demands – as he seems to imply. New Labour conceived the Downing Street grid of rolling media announcements, firing out releases to fit the government’s narrative and control the agenda.One section made Guido laugh, when Blair said;

It used to be thought – and I include myself in this – that help was on the horizon. New forms of communication would provide new outlets to by-pass the increasingly shrill tenor of the traditional media. In fact, the new forms can be even more pernicious, less balanced, more intent on the latest conspiracy theory multiplied by five.

This is unreal, perhaps he imagined that if the media was democratised by citizens they would be more susceptible to his charm than hardened journalists and media moguls. In reality the citizen-journalists of the new media are less manipulable, less embedded in the Westminster politico-media nexus, less needy in terms of access and more likely to tell it as they see it without fear. That is not shrill, that is clear and unspun. Blair went on to complain that

it is rare today to find balance in the media. Things, people, issues, stories, are all black and white. Life’s usual grey is almost entirely absent. “Some good, some bad”; “some things going right, some going wrong”: these are concepts alien to today’s reporting.

Whether from the left or right, bloggers do tend to see things in black and white terms, right and wrong, not in shades of grey. Is it naive to expect high moral and ethical standards from those who seek the privilege of serving the public in a democracy? Maybe. Guido thinks we should still demand the highest moral and ethical standards of our law-makers. Is that too much to ask?

Picture credit : GQ

A couple of months ago Bryan Appleyard wrote an article arguing that “Guido is Blair’s true legacy”, the Speccie’s Matthew d’Ancona in the latest GQ magazine says bloggers have “changed the terms of trade”. Good, because politicians really do deserve the treatment they get here, they don’t deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt, to be allowed to keep their dirty secrets, to quote Paxman, political journalists need to always be asking themselves “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?” The damage which saps the country’s confidence and self-belief has been done by politicians, not by the messengers of the old or new media. Politicians, and particularly Tony Blair, have only themselves to blame.

Finally to those who worry about regulatory threats to blogging, forget it. Guido got it direct from Tim Toulmin (director of the Press Complaints Commission), they know they can’t touch Guido and they won’t even try. Short of going down the Iranian/Chinese route of censoring the internet there is nothing they can do but bluster. So feral and untamed Guido will happily stay.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Politicians are Feral Spinners

Blair must reap what he sowed. The culture of New Labour is a culture of rapid rebuttal, the set “line”, the vicious rubbishing of enemies, the off-the-record briefing all backed up by armies of government media handlers and Special Advisers. 24/7 rolling spin…

Remember, for example, what they told us about the Women’s Institute member who led the slow-hand-clapping of Blair – that she had a National Front past. That was feral spin, vicious and untrue. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s plan to “fuck” David Kelly? That was feral. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s foul mouthed tirades? They were feral. The old woman mistreated at an NHS hospital during an election campaign? “Racist” they smeared, without any evidence. The Brownite pack’s undermining of Blairite colleagues like Ruth Kelly and John Reid? Wasn’t that feral?

Blair’s treatment by the media got rough only after he was completely found out. It was the dodgy dossier, and the false prospectus for war that did for him, his spin was until then more than a match for the media pack.

UPDATE : The IPPR has just emailed out a piece (on the back of the Blair speech) by Sir Michael White where he blames everyone else for the “gross tabloidisation of national journalism” including of course the “unmediated internet”. He repeats his claim that the Loans for Lordships investigation is just political opportunism by the SNP and Blair’s political enemies. Michael White has spent 30 years covering politics close-up, he is no longer able to see that selling seats in the legislature is just plain wrong. He basically says “everybody did it”, why the fuss now?

The better question is, why only now has there been a fuss? Well if a young new MP had not stumbled upon the corruption legislation, if a less determined detective had not been given the case and the story wasn’t pushed relentlessly by “unmediated” voices, there would have been no fuss.

Just as well the likes of Sir Michael White and Nick Robinson were ignored and some kept on at the story in an unmediated and grossly tabloid way, eh?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Informed Sources?

Isn’t today the day that the Sun’s George Pascoe-Watson revealed on the front-page that Blair would leave office? ITS MAY 31ran the headline.

Not quite…


Seen Elsewhere

What the Final Polls Tell Us | UK Polling Report
David Cameron’s Draft Resignation Letter | Speccie
Labour HQ to Be Demolished | Asa Bennett
Dirty Politics is a Good Thing | Harry Cole
Media Fear and Loathing in Scotland, Labour Next | Owen Jones
UK Top 10 Influencer Political Blogs | Cision
Redwood Exposes Constitutional Vandalism | Nick Wood
No Campaign Has Been Inept | Mail
PM Faces Friday Bloodbath | Mail
Will Miliband Bottle English Devolution? | Mary Riddell
Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott


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