Thursday, November 19, 2009

When Less Isn't More

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.

6 comments:

Ronnie de Ramper said...

I think we're dealing with pretty demoralised journalists down Oldham St. It must be pretty dispiriting having to churn out the kind of tripe that Editor, Alasdair McCrasy, likes under conditions of permanent uncertainty. I don't think many journalists go into the business intending to publish drivel. But I do think some reach the stage where whatever gets them through the night will do.

Esther Johnson said...

Why hasn't the Daily Ghost been more vocal about the plight of local building workers - I don't think many got a job on the Liverpool One shopping centre. This was massive yet all we got was jobs for people outside the city. I walked passed the construction site once and all I heard were foreign accents. Not being xenophobic but this was an opportunity lost for local apprentices. The local rags just gave us the usual feel-good, PR led, October publicity. I will lament their passing as we still need good local journalism, but they had their chance and now their time is up.

Liverpool Preservation Trust said...

Esther is right.
I am relably informed that the Home Office Immigration department had serious trouble with illegal immigrants working at both Grosvenor-pool and the Oldham Echo Arena when being built.
Did they do any news items on that one?

Anonymous said...

What the hell did October have to do with any of this? Nothing, is the short answer.

Correspondent said...

Is that you, Larry? How's things?

Esther Johnson said...

It seems that my comment about October has touched an anonymous nerve. Concerning "journalism" at Oldham Hall Street, I believe October Communications has qualified as a valued partner. The local rag's owners are quite open about using PR spin to fill their pages. I thought we were discussing the decline of reporting and editorial standards, was I wrong to suggest that the readers deserved better than publicity hand-outs? Please let me know if October have never been involved...