Tuesday, 27 June 2017

More pressing business

I wrote recently of the survey by a PR company of the sources local journalists use for stories.  Well a couple more items have caught me eye.

An item that appeared today on the JEP online that superficially looks as though some reporter has been out to doorstep the Environment Minister  over an ongoing local issue - development of glasshouses.  The wording seemed oddly familiar to me so I checked.  Here's the printed piece, Minister envious of Guernsey planning policy  and for comparison the Minister in the States Assembly 20th June answering a supplementary question from Deputy Russell Labey re Warwick Farm. https://statesassembly.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/291867/start_time/8103000 

The odd thing here is the inclusion of the comment about Andium Homes wanting to build there.  You might think reading the piece that the Minister is accepting Warwick Farm is one of the sites that might be built on. Not so .  In the same half hour question time in the States there was a question from Montford Tadier https://statesassembly.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/291867/start_time/8661000 That response seems pretty definitive. There is no potential for housing at Warwick Farm in the short term. How can  a reporter pay enough attention to one answer to quote almost verbatim, and yet include something that is flatly rebuffed in the same question time? Laziness, ineptitude or  calculated political slanting, I don't know - make up your own mind.  

As an aside I would point out the JEP should be aware of at least one of the alternative plans for Warwick Farm, consistent with the current green zoning of the site.  I know because the background paper to one of the expressions of interest in the lease was e-mailed to them by an over zealous supporter of  the plan.

Let me highlight another States issue.  It is of course all public information. It is on record in Hansard there's nothing here not readily available to any reporter.  You might recall the debate on the new hospital funding was delayed 4 times.  18th April the delay was called for by the Treasury Minister to give members time to analyse the little over 100 pages of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel report .  A move was made by others to delay the debate by even more than the two weeks agreed.

Odd then that the same States members who couldn't analyse a 111 page report in April in a day opr two are now confident enough to read digest and  debate in detail a probably (hopefully) much larger report of the Committee of Inquiry in to abuse in less than 3 days.  It just does not stack up.  

What does stack up to my mind is the stage management of the publication of the report. Only accredited press (no interested parties?) will be at the launch on the 3rd.  As I read the information there will be no opportunity of question and the lock in session will only be revealing the executive summary at that stage.  In effect the immediate press coverage will be what the chair and panel are telling the press is the important stuff, the 'party line'. and of course that will dominate the public information available just ahead of the States debate.  

 The ancient Chinese general Sun Tsu wrote
All warfare is based on deception.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.


Every battle is won before it is ever fought.

There is nothing quite as important in practicing deception than to have a compliant unquestioning fourth estate.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Shades of things about to come Updated.

In the run up to the important date of July 3rd, I was interested to hear a piece on radio 4's PM today concerning the odious Peter Ball. He is the bishop who was convicted in 2015 for misconduct in a public office and for abusing 18 teenagers and vulnerable young men.  It was a follow up to the report yesterday.  The key points of Dame Moira Gibb's report are : 
     "Ball's priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused."

     "The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others"

     "Ball's conduct has caused serious and enduring damage to the lives of many men... Peter Ball betrayed his Church and abused individual followers of that Church." 

The radio piece interviewed Rev Graham Sawyer who was one of Ball's victims in the 1990's.  I've done my best here to transcribe what he said.  It will be on Iplayer for a while at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08tvjm8#play

Many victims of abuse like myself are still being ignored, isolated and vilified today.  I find it (the report) underwhelming. There wasn't much in it that was new to me. A few extra details perhaps but a lot of it has been known to many people who have been seeking to change the culture in the Church in the way that it deals with these matters.  And particularly with the way that it deal with the victims of abuse.  I was appalled Dame Moira Gibb in her forward says we have no doubt the Church has a genuine commitment to meeting its responsibilities towards victims of abuse.

It is simply totally untrue.  The way the highest levels of the Church - bishops archbishops and the National Safeguarding Office  - the way they treat people like me and the other people I speak with can only be described as enduringly cruel and enduringly sadistic.

For balance I assume they also had Bishop Sarah Mullally on.  She was not involved with production of the report. Again I'll try to transcribe her words.

I was disturbed by the contents of the report. Also saddened by the way in which survivors of abuse had been treated.  There was no excuse for that. Frustrated because as a Church (we are) seeking to  improve but (it) demonstrates not doing it fast enough.

The presenter then put a point that one fellow had written 17 times before receiving a reply from the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Bishop answered We are are trying to get a better response and training The Church of England is quite a complex organisation. Whilst that is not an excuse in Devon we have 6,000 volunteers to train.  The report was commissioned by the Church  of England so we are saying we want to learn. We recognise we have failed and we are seeking to try and mover forward.  It has to be an indication the the Church is willing to learn and to change, but not fast enough. 

To my mind the comments of the Bishop are pretty weak as more contrite version of  'lessons have be learned'.  It is also a bit rich trying to play up some merit for commissioning the report when that only happened after Peter Ball had been convicted.  What else could the Church have done?

Why is this of relevance to July 3rd and the publication of our CoI report.  Well it demonstrates clearly that establishment institutions are not above reproach and that collusion in high office is certainly possible. I rather suspect the comments  by Rev Sawyer will be applicable here - no new information and nothing much to commend to victims and survivors.


I've just come across this which is a very interesting piece that rather confims the point about treatment of victims, refers to Peter Ball, and involves Dame Butler Sloss who had been  picked to chair the CSA inquiry.  Butler Sloss tape

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

It is all about who you know

Six months without posting is uncharacterisitc of me.  It certainly isn't for lack of material to comment on: delays to the Committee of Inquiry, unexpected election results, Sen Ozouf in out hokey cokey dance, serious case reviews re child care, the vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister.  In part it is circumstances that have left me with a lot more work to do than normal.  In part it is because these things are of little real consequence in a world where systems are at or possibly beyond sustainable limits.

I did read one article that I think is worth noting, because it might explain some of the surprise and the disconnect between expectations and outcomes in political events. The article is a summary of a survey of  ‘traditional media’ in the Crown Dependencies, See  The Blurring of Lines Between Social Media and Traditional Communications

 The critical paragraph is "What stands out in particular to us as PR professionals is the overwhelming and persistent preference amongst journalists of sourcing stories from press releases and personal contacts, rather than relying on social media."

Two strands of thought really concern me here.  First is what is missing.  No mention is made of professional reports and published data.  Analysis of such sources and data is where important stories can be discovered. Hardly surprising therefore that we seldom see reporters go back to old reports and commitments of public bodies and follow up if recommendations have been enacted , deadlines met or actions delivered.   Sometimes such things are taken up by blogs and individuals , but as we see from the survey these are not regarded as sources.

The  second, and equally as serious is the self referential nature of the sources the journalists are using.  Personal contacts and press releases are not representative of society as a whole.  If journalism is a profession staffed predominanlty by graduates, then likely those within it mix with other professionals and graduates.  Their circle of contacts are likely similar to themselves.  Press releases are the tools of the educated and the comfortably well off of corporates and big organisations.  A bit of reflection shows us the input to the journalists about which items are important which are worthy of attention and in what light they are viewed is not based on any merit or seriousness of the content, but on who is connected, who has the channels open, who can whisper in whose ear.

Hardly surprising then that our local media, and I suspect it applies further afield too, have their own Westminster Village effect.  No surprise then that election results  where real ordinary people  have a voice come as a shock.