Wednesday 4 February 2009

Simon Jenkins on financial crisis: 'I'm glad it was Robert, not a blog that did what happened to Northern Rock"

Just finished watching the Treasury select committee on the media's role in the financial crisis.

It was a good display by the assembled journalists* though they might have had a harder time had they been grilling each other. And I was disappointed by the lack of discussion about Robert Peston's blog and indeed Alphaville, the FT's blog.

There was this nugget on blogging from Simon Jenkins. For context, Jenkins was describing how those involved in reporting this story were acting in a considered way in the public interest. He denied there was any reckless journalism going on here, though suggested a hypothetical situation where there might be. He concluded:

"I think one of the virtues, if I may say, of established news media organisations is they are, to a certain extent, trained to be responsible. I’m much more worried about the blogosphere. Anything could go out. I’m glad it was Robert, not a blog that did what happened to Northern Rock."

Yes...thank goodness Robert wasn't writing a blog, then he might suddenly have become a reckless journalist spouting all sorts....hang on. Sorry. Is it just me or was Robert's blog actually quite an important factor in all this. After all, Robert was using his blog to break a number of stories during the crisis. Or maybe I'm mistaken. Does Robert's blog exist outside the blogosphere and nobody's told me?

In fact, I was rather hoping the committee might actually really quiz Robert Peston on his blog and the editorial process behind blogging. How did it differ, if at all, from the stuff he was doing on TV and radio? Did the same standards apply? Where was he blogging? Did every last word he wrote get double-checked? What if any difference did reader comments make to the story? Etc and so forth.

But they didn't. Opportunity lost.

*Robert Peston, BBC; Alex Brummer, Daily Mail; Lionel Barber, FT; Simon Randall, Telegraph & Sky; and Simon Jenkins, Guardian.


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