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.