I have been too busy with work to write anything useful or interesting for a week or so. Which means that the Church Mouse beat me to an indignant questioning of journalistic nonsense.
Apart from wondering why the British media are obsessed with looking for any negative story with which to pour cold water on the Olympics – and I am not referring to the debacle that is G4S – my attention was grabbed by the ridiculous stuff about creationists being allowed to become free schools. Just follow this:
The Guardian did a piece on 17 July which ran under this headline:
Creationist groups win Michael Gove’s approval to open free schools
The subtitle then ran: Education secretary backs three schools run by groups with creationist views, raising concerns about levels of scrutiny.
The article goes on a long way before any hint of an acknowledgement that each of the schools they cite has explicitly rejected what the article accuses them of. Inevitably, the British Humanist Association wades in, hitting a phantom, striking down a straw man. The Church Mouse got in quickly and his demolition of the piece – and the story itself – was re-posted on the Guardian website (with a very nice picture).
This morning I read Deborah Ross in the Independent. She is indignant about what she has heard! And she clearly hasn’t bothered to check the story, check the sources or think about reality.
This is what happens. A story gets published with a particular ‘take’ on it. Hysteria ensues as the commentariat pitches in – not on the question at issue, but on the ‘story’… which might or might not relate to reality. This has two consequences: (a) the subjects waste a load of time fighting fires they didn’t start… about stuff they have neither said nor done (which looks defensive), and (b) the commentators move on to the next ‘story’, blessing us with their mere opinions about stuff they clearly don’t know about it.
Am I being snide or defensive? Possibly. But, it has happened to me more than once. And no one is exempt from ‘being held to account’ – not least those who stand in judgement on everybody and everything else.
Still, we live to fight another day…