Remember that thing called journalism? Go on, surely you must, it's what those characters on Oldham Hall Street still claim to practise. Pity their protestations are as valid as Thierry Henry's main de Dieu last night (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/nov/19/ireland-thierry-henry-france-hand ).
Take this unsurprisingly byline-free piece in today's Oldham Echo http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2009/11/19/merseyside-mps-applaud-queen-s-speech-100252-25203291/:
"Merseyside Labour MPs welcomed a Queen's Speech which focused on the chief concerns of northern cities.
"Top of their list was a bill to grant employment rights for agency workers who make up an estimated one in five of those in employment across the north west outside the public sector.
"But there were some fears that the package may not be enough to save Gordon Brown at the next election.
"The new agency workers' regulations mean that after 12 weeks they will get equal treatment with permanent staff."
Yes, that's it. Four sentences, masquerading as paragraphs, which claim to report the views of Merseyside's Labour MPs without quoting a single one of them. The assertion that the Queen's Speech "focused on the chief concerns of northern cities" is also a bit dodgy; no such aim was either openly spelt out or implied by OAP Liz Windsor at Westminster yesterday.
Oh, & about that legislation regarding agency workers, you'll find that it isn't what it seems, as Seumas Milne elaborates over on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/18/queens-speech-labour-election ):
"In some areas ministers are actually going backwards. Yesterday it was announced that agency workers would indeed get the same rights as permanent staff after 12 weeks -- a central demand of those battling the casualisation that has fuelled tensions over migrant labour. But not only will the measure be delayed for two years. The fine print has been drafted to water down protection to the point where one trade union leader involved in the negotiations told me yesterday: 'It's been made worthless, this is not what we signed up to.' Once again ministers have bowed to market orthodoxy and business pressure, some evidently with an eye on their own lucrative corporate options after the election."
Not only does the Oldham Echo claim to attribute views to MPs who aren't even directly or indirectly quoted, it also lazily proffers the sort of take-it-or-leave-it approach in its articles which is augmented by this apologia for journalism.