I’m not afraid to admit it, I’m in total agreement with Alastair Campbell.

The one time No.10 spokesman has criticised the falling standards across the board within the media, as well as castigating the “sameness” of much of the output and “culture of negativity” that has gripped many in the industry.

Mr Campbell, political editor of the Daily Mirror before taking up a job offer from Tony Blair, has become something of an anti-journalist.

Seemingly forever criticising his former colleagues and doing his damnedest to stop them doing their job (or, worse, telling them how to do their job) when he jumped over the fence and into the Downing Street role, Mr Campbell has possibly alienated more within the media industry than any other figure in recent times.

And yet I can’t help but nod in agreement about some of the points he made during the annual Hugh Cudlipp Lecture at the London College of Communications.

We now have so much more access to information these days and the quality of media output has been diluted accordingly. The industry has struggled to keep pace with technology and compete with the new outlets, as a result standards have dropped.

Equally, there is little new, exciting and relevant being produced by the established media and what they do put out tends to be negative in the extreme.

It is mean-spirited.

It is ignorant.

It ain’t bothered.

But is it reflecting society as a whole, or is society starting to mirror the style and attitude of the saturation media coverage it is exposed to these days?

I am also in total agreement with Mr Campbell when he acknowledges that he has become a symbol of the deteriorated relations between the media and politics.

He cites it as one of the reasons why he left No.10 in the hope that much of mutual antipathy would be eradicated – yet the relationship has not been repaired and in many respects has got worse.

Mr Campbell does need to take a share of responsibility for that deterioration.

He may have served his boss well at No.10 and I still admire his determination and loyalty, yet a high price was paid and the animosity that exists between the media and politics is not easily repaired.

What is most worrying is the biggest victims tends to be the public.

We’ve lost faith in politics and politicians, but we’ve also grown to mistrust the media.

So who do we turn to and who do we believe?

There are many reasons to explain the state we’re currently in. The state of the media is a good starting point.

(Footnote: Never one to hold back, Mr Campbell followed up his lecture with an appearance at the House of Lords where, amongst other classic soundbites, he accused the editor of The Daily Mail of being “evil” and attacked the Press Complaints Commission as “pretty useless”.)


2 responses »

  1. Nick Scott Donald says:

    My grandfather used to tell me, tongue in cheek; “Never Trust a Campbell” (this goes back to the clan troubles in Glen Coe in 1692). And Alistair has done little to put the shine back on the name.

    Though he is, I believe, a major architect of the current decline, he is indeed correct in what he says. However, I also think he is also merely mouthing common sense (for want of a better term) and perhaps even universal truths.

    [As I understand it, US journalist Ed Murrow launched a similar attack on the media of his own country for being ignorant and negative (some of this lecture was used in the recent film “Good Night and Good Luck”). The difference is that Murrow gave his lecture in 1958.]

    The point being, I cannot see a way out of the mire.

  2. Paul Groves says:

    I agree that he is merely talking common sense. What is depressing is that it stands out precisely for that reason – there are so few people in the public eye who do it.
    Perhaps if more did a bit of plain-speaking and talking common sense we might find a way forward.
    What really annoys me is that I’ve slipped into the “they’re all as bad as each other” mentality, instead of looking for the shining lights.

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