Links for Friday, then, and there's every reason to begin with the Telegraph's story about what MPs and cabinet ministers have been (entirely legitimately, it would appear) claiming off expenses.
Is this the bombshell that rips the Brown Government apart? Or just some stuff that was going to come out anyway, which hasn't broken the regulations or the law in any respect whatsoever, but which the Telegraph has obtained a little earlier than they would otherwise have done, for what appears to be £150k - or, to put it another way, easily enough money to pay five or six journalists for a year.
We do have every right to find out what MPs claim off expenses, seeing as they're public servants. But what's so bloody brilliant about getting the stuff a month or so before it would otherwise have come out? Are there genuine nasties lurking in the unredacted data, or have the Telegraph blown a fortune - a real fortune during a recession - on stuff that is neither unexpected nor particularly explosive. Who knows, perhaps over the next few days - and I'm sure the Tele will want to drag this out to create a few sales off the back of it - we'll hear of really exciting stuff.
The Telegraph's broadsheet rival The Guardian is a bit sneery about the whole affair, as of course you'd expect, but it does make an interesting point:
But lawyers said that, if claims the paper paid up to £300,000 for the information ‑ reportedly contained in a computer disk stolen from the parliamentary fees office ‑ were accurate, both the mole and the paper remained at risk of criminal prosecution.
Blimey, it's £300k now! Well, whatever - if there's even the threat of legal action then the bill for this story will be rising even higher and higher. I'm kind of torn in two by this - on the one hand it's investigative reporting, of a sort, and should be welcomed as an antidote to endless reams of celebrity shite and recycled press releases; but on the other, it's not (yet) the massive scoop it could have been, and it's a hell of a lot of money to pay for some nicked stuff that was going to be made public anyway.
Elsewhere, Tim and Dave Semple say goodbye and farewell to Derek Draper. Ah, deary me. The whole LabourList nonsense has been a complete embarrassment for Labour - and the only halfway good thing to come out of it has been the demise of Jeremy Kyle's mate. Those of a conspiracy theory mindset might be tempted to think that the only way something this appalling could have been dreamt up by Labour was by an act of deliberate sabotage and infiltration; and who knows, maybe there is something in that. But given a choice between conspiracy and incompetence, I'll always go for incompetence. I think it's simply that Labour are a total shower, badly organised, alienating those of us who are their natural supporters, and lurching ever further to the right.
Speaking of the shitness of New Labour, Septicisle has an excellent post on what Jacqui Smith's contempt for 'our masters in Brussels' means for our freedoms:
After more than a decade where the belief that if you had nothing to hide you had nothing to fear became so entrenched that almost anything, with the exception of the death penalty, was considered as a potential policy to deal with the hysteria over crime, even as crime itself fell off a cliff, sanity has finally begun to make something of a return.
Sanity however is not something that comes naturally to the Home Office under Labour.
Steel yourselves, now. The next thing you're going to see is the most appalling piece of shite ever published in a newspaper. Are you ready? Go! No, you didn't just imagine that. It was an abysmally halfway-up-the-rectum piece about how great Express owner Richard Desmond is, published in, let me see, the Express. In once sense you have to feel sorry for the poor hack who had to cobble together this sickeningly bad load of old guff to plump up the ego of a man who has done more than most to destroy the British press; but then again, no-one put a gun to their heads and made them go and work for Desmond, did they?
Angry Mob has a look behind the "Oh my god the evil NHS is killing us!" bollocks at the Mail and discovers, well what do you know, it isn't. It's especially depressing to read the complete crap aimed at the NHS from journalists who attempt to portray the actions of one or two people who get in trouble as representative of the entirety of the world's second-biggest employer, when you consider that (a) they only know about the stories in the first place because there'a a rigorous disciplinary system in place to weed out the incompetent, (b) that the occasions when it comes to light merely proves its effectiveness rather than some underlying problem of everyone who works for the NHS being shit, (c) and this is from a 'profession' of journalism with far more bad apples, whose members are not subject to the same scrutiny, where being unprofessional is not only tolerated but positively encouraged at the highest level.
Tory Troll talks about the Evening sub-Standard's "We're sorry for being shit" campaign and why one person seems to be fighting a lone battle to praise it. Who might that be? It's not... him, is it?
Sky is one of many news outlets reporting on the fact that a woman shot an elephant with a bow and arrow. Apart from hoping the stupid bitch gets gored to death the next time she goes near one, it's worth pointing out that this happened bloody years ago and isn't news at all. Note how Sky and the others have cunningly concealed this in their reports.
Ben Six reacts to Trevor Phillips's nonsensical ramblings about Britishness.
Chris Dillow blogs on democracy.
Andy Worthington talks about what Obama's doing on torture, and why he might not be the big liberal hope that many would like him to be.
The Daily Mash reports on how Joanna Lumley has taken over the British Government.
And for my fellow Bristolians, here's how your local paper might not be called the Daily Mail, but can't resist showing the true colours of its ownership when it comes to a story about completely unproven allegations about the nature of people robbing a shop - allowing a slew of 'thieving gypsy' comments as part of the debate. Nice.
That's about it for now. But there'll be more later.
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- Friday links 24/10: Journalism
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