Time is Ripe for a Code of Conduct

The commentariat are hyper-ventilating (again) about creating a voluntary code of conduct for blogs and even self-certifying seals of approval corresponding to publicly established guidelines. Guido would like to see the old media and dead-tree-press implement it.

They would of course need corresponding badges of approval to signify a story in these categories:

Fully Spun : Story written up after being called by or out-to-lunch with a politician / SpAd / government spokesman. No checking, just taking dictation.

Pinocchio piece : Journalist knows it is probably an untrue flyer, but it will fill the white space in the paper and the source will owe one for helping out with placement of disinformation. Good for a Sunday splash.

Frame game : Journalist uses terms coined by focus groups on behalf of politicians to frame their opponents using language tested the same way as washing powder. Can produce a snappy headline. Won’t wash.

Secret formula source : Anonymous official source whose purpose is to smear a political opponent or leak misleading information is given an unqualified write up – as in “sources close to CPS say there will be no prosecutions”. See Mark Townsend.

Old news : Story reported elsewhere is used as a justification not to revisit a developing story when significant new information surfaces. See, forinstance, the Guardian’s non-reporting of new revelations in the Smith Institute scandal. Polly Toynbee is on the board of the Sith.




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