Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Being good at journalism: a bad way to become a journalist

In preparation for this year's customary wheeling out of the widespread media lie [backed by attention-seeking politicians and clergy] about how some authority or other is trying to "ban" or "rename" or "rebrand" or "prevent people from celebrating" Christmas, usually "because it might offend [Muslims/ethnic minorities/whoever is the current scapegoat du jour]", i've been reading The Winterval Myth, Kevin Arscott's excellent and forensic analysis of a falsehood that has now been repeated by the British press at least 283 times since 1998. [If only it came in a physical form which could be used to knock people who perpetuate such garbage about the head with.]

There's a particularly telling passage with regards to the state of British [Western?] journalism on page 9 of the PDF, concerning Kelvin MacKenzie's experiment soon after he began editing The Sun to only hire Oxbridge graduates as reporters, and why this 'failed' [his assessment].

"Satisfied that my bold move would take The Sun to a higher plain I waited for the results. They were not forthcoming. In fact, very little emerged from my new hirelings. Most disappointing. 
I had to get to the bottom of this. It became clear that with their keen and analytical minds they had made a fatal mistake – they had continued investigating every story to the point where they had satisfied themselves that there was no story at all. This would not do. 
I called in one of the super-brains and explained a philosophy that had served me well over the years. The reporter leant forward with an earnest look as I told him the secret: if a story sounded true it probably was true and should therefore appear in the paper or there would be lots of white, unexplained spaces."

So there you have it. If it sounds true, it's probably true. The most surprising aspect of this for me is not the fact of what MacKenzie says, which should be pretty obvious to anyone who's been paying attention, but how cheerfully, casually blasé he is about acknowledging this.

Which is how, 13 years after an event, you end up with almost 300 repetitions of a straight-up tissue of lies about that event. And with a culture where the people who have the skills actually required to do a job are considered overqualified for that job because those skills don't prop up the 'correct' financial and ideological interests. Good stuff. I await 2011's blizzard of Winterval fabrications with interest.