Some people in authority have still not yet come to terms with William Caxton and his printing press and making information available to the general pubic.
Many millions of people have already died, all over the world to promote and protect free speech and expression but the censorship battle continues.
Some dinosaurs still resist the inevitable and in Jersey the country cousins seem to view such progress as a disease to be fought against - just like a 16th century plague - and William would recognise them instantly.
Newspapers, books, TV, radio, cinema, telephones and fax are all going the way of the tom-tom, semaphore and the telex. Now the mobile ‘phones that connect to the INTERNET and send comment and images all around the world and even into space if necessary - all in a split second – are already here and who knows what the future might deliver? But our government is still smashing the old machinery……..
So what a dismal show was the BBC “Talk-Back” programme on Sunday. Not only was the discussion supposedly devoted to blogging and “Citizens Media” in Jersey and beyond but there wasn’t even a blogger in the studio!! Instead we had the usual giggling girl from Canada with a couple of well meaning but partially informed Deputies - and the horizon of discussion hardly ever left the confines of the bomb proof shelter that BBC Jersey calls journalism.
Of course we at “The Voice”did offer to appear in the studio, but were refused – yet Ms Tucker told listeners that we had refused to participate. Such is the standard of reporting, even of the simplest fact. She declined to mention we were willing to come on the Talkback show but were not willing to give an interview that could be edited by Matthew Price or Denzil Dudley
You see with “Professionally trained Journalist” it’s not what you say (or don’t) it’s how you say it (or don’t).
Little wonder then that this great promoter of Free Expression, Knowledge and Education that was once the British Broadcasting Corporation should have been brought down by scandal after scandal in recent years and pays £millions to mediocre presenters who are as likely to be insulting as entertaining or informative.
Did somebody say professionally trained versus the amateurs? That is one of the government lines of course and the so called “accredited press” just lap it up as though they were part of some well trained and regulated body of socially motivated, independent reporters of events!!!!!
How many of the “accredited press” have been involved in one scandal or another? The mighty BBC themselves editing video footage claiming the Queen was storming out of, I believe a photo shoot or something similar when in fact she was WALKING IN! What about the BBC Blue Peter scandal with the phone in? Same goes for ITV, Channel 4 and channel 5!!
Professions! – you must be joking – as Cynthia Payne would say – allegedly.
In fact, the best informed participation on the Talkback programme was the pre-recorded interview with a blogger – but who he was or whether he had any links with Jersey and the threatened Proposition 112 was not explained.
Were any other local bloggers actually asked to appear? Constable Crowcroft runs his own blog site and could usefully have replaced one of the 2 undemanding Deputies. Was he asked? Were any of the JDA Deputies invited? The JDA has a blog site and Deputy Trevor Pitman has witnessed many of the Scrutiny Panel spats but where was there even a shadow of the “balance” that supposedly dictates standards of BBC journalism? They had a show about Blogging and refused to allow Bloggers to be guests on the show!!
Sadly, the issues are so much wider than whether cameras should be allowed into the States Chamber or even Scrutiny Panel proceedings. It is about public access to all so called “public” hearings whether in government, the Parishes or the Courts. What are the limits of “public information” and who shall be denied access to it?
We at “The Voice” have already challenged the refusal to allow video recording of “public” Complaint Board hearings and we have complained about the totally inadequate “public” facilities here, there and everywhere but with a few notable exceptions (such as Deputy Bob Hill) our efforts are largely ignored by our elected “representatives”. Why?
Poor access to the public gallery of the States Chamber was mentioned in the programme but nobody mentioned the lamentable and deteriorating service provided by the Greffe in failing to publish and distribute adequate information. It’s no wonder that the Greffe bookshop now sells toys and pencils printed with the States logo because the shelves are virtually bare and everybody is assumed to have the facilities to download copies from the appallingly inadequate and unfriendly gov.je website (where the Greffe is hidden as a “non executive department”!!!!!).
The Crown Officers recent Annual Report – which included important information on the Haut De La Garenne saga – was not available in hardcopy (or print as Caxton might have called it) at all. Not a single paper copy was printed – where might tomorrow’s investigative journalists or historians refer to that report if necessary?
Ironically, vast amounts of INTERNET space is now taken up with Google’s plan to publish on-line the ancients printed texts, books and documents that fill the shelves of libraries and archives around the world. But what will happen to documents that are never fixed on paper but exist only as electronic data? Shall the record of past centuries be available and open for research but the 21st be allowed to evaporate?
Who shall control the records of our government and without vigilance and effective scrutiny – using the best available technology – who shall monitor the controllers?
The 2 Deputies admitted that the problems had been underestimated and that Proposition 112 (now scrapped) was half baked but the silly and probably illegal Protocols introduced by the Scrutiny Chairmens Chairman’s Committee remain in force. Why?
In a world where Facebook, Twitter, and Skype allow people to communicate with each other instantly across the world and where more information can be stored in a gadget the size of a matchbox than exists in an average library – the time for government and those who are interested in the processes of information gathering and distribution to consider the issues, is NOW.
Bloggers are here to stay. Broadcasters, journalists or politicians who seek to exclude them from the debate are kidding themselves. Such attempts at suppression and censorship will only feed the growth of blogging and citizens media. Caxton’s skills were secretive, hard to learn and expensive to apply. Now every child in Jersey is taught to compute and text and the equipment to speak with the world or to access its archives rests easily in a child’s hand.
GET REAL BBC and the rest of you journalistic and political has beens. The game is OVER!!!!!!
The public has the right to know and bloggers the world over are blowing away the secretive and cosy clubs that politicians and journalists and others in authority have enjoyed for far too long.