Via The Guardian. The Reuters Institute heard Tony Blair ‘dis’ the (media) maiden that (many counter) previously catered to his every need. In an informed lecture (right sermon, wrong speaker, one commentator opined) Blair delivered a five point speech attacking the current media set-up and agenda; his main points that apply equally to UK, USA and Australian media (as well documented in ‘Public Relations Disasters’) were:
*First, scandal or controversy beats ordinary reporting hands down.
*Second, attacking the motive is far more potent than attacking the judgement.
*Third, today’s media is like a feral beast…tearing people/reputations to bits.
*Fourth, commentary/interpretation is more important than the news itself.
*Fifth; the confusion of news and commentary means opinion becomes fact.
Uh-huh, Tone; tell us something we media types don’t already know…
Like PR-savvy Richard Branson, Tony Blair has proven himself a skilful deployer of PR both strategic and tactical (via media management) in his time. An eloquent orator, his latest public speech (befitting of West Wing’s Matt Santos or Arnie Vinick) is scathing of the system that (his detractors remind usm of his News Corp links) previously served him well.
Political commentator Peter Osborne of The Daily Mail and contributing editor of the Spectator attacked the outgoing prime minister for failing to mention his key relationship with Rupert Murdoch and how the News International group has protected him throughout.
“It’s deeply intellectually dishonest to say ‘we have a feral media’ when his government did a lot of disgusting things including a series of smear campaigns against its enemies, including Mo Mowlam and Claire Short. “The methodology of Blair in government has been to use the press to smear his enemies. He has been the one putting out the shit,” Osborne added.
Blair also said: “Impact is what matters. It is all that can distinguish, can rise above the clamour, can get noticed. Impact gives competitive edge…News is rarely news unless it generates heat as much as or more than light.Second, attacking motive is far more potent than attacking judgement. It is not enough for someone to make an error. It has to be venal. Conspiratorial.”
Blair also questioned whether papers (and web sources) needed some reviewed system of accountability saying calling (Wikipedia Wales-like) for perhaps a ‘kitemark’ for websites and similar online media sources.
While some agree with his sentiments, others such as Emily Bell defend the evolving new media.
And some bloggers commentented thus:
It’s a pathetic exercise in face-saving.
Blair’s trying to get in before his reputation is savaged and he has no relationship with Murdoch to sustain it.
The arrogance of the man is staggering!
So, was Tony right? Is the media feral? Is PR culpable by feeding it? Does this website deserve a kitemark or a warning label?