Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

England's most senior judge warned yesterday that town hall 'spin' is a threat to a free society.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said that people should get their information about what local councils are doing from independent sources.

'I don't want the proceedings of the local council to be reported to the public by an employee of that council,' Lord Judge said.

He added: 'Spin is neither a cornerstone nor a bulwark of a free society.'

Read more at the Daily Mail.....

Tags for Forum Posts: Haringey People, local media, local newspapers

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In fact, the Chief Judge covered a great deal more than the Daily Mail chose to report. For example, his topics included the economic decline of newspapers. While a major issue which the Mail included in its report was not actually in Lord Judge's speech.

Read the speech for yourself on the Society of Editors' website. It's quite short and to the point.
Click here for the full text version (MsWord).
Or click here to watch part of his speech on video.

Then consider who exactly is spinning.
The DM mentions 'councils spying on residents'. Lord Judge does not. DM spin.

But lets keep to what really matters. Lord Judge says;

But notice, if you will, that I have spoken about an independent press. I do not mean a handout by the government of the day, or the local authority, or any other institutional organisation which affects the lives of the citizens of the country, producing its own broadsheet. I do not want the proceedings of the local council to be reported by an employee of the local council. I do not want the press to be the broadsheet of the local authority or the Government. I do not want proceedings in court to be reported by a member of the judicial communications office. Spin is neither a cornerstone nor a bulwark of a free society. We need independent, objective reporting.

There's not doubt the Haringey People is a propaganda sheet. Will the Lib Dems dump it if they get into power in Haringey? Will Labour? They should.
Matt, lots of things in Lord Judge's speech "really matter". Though I doubt whether his concern for an "independent press" means he would disapprove of local authorities having any publications or leaflets which give their residents information. Or whether he'd criticise local councils for spending money on persuading people, for example, of the benefits of recycling? Or to use local facilities?

He does though "underline" the stark commercial pressures on newspapers. And - like Clay Shirky - he sees digital technology having "as dramatic an impact on society as a whole as the invention of the printing press".

But isn't one of the most significant aspects that we don't need intermediaries - me, you, the Daily Mail - to tell us what Lord Judge said? Two mouseclicks and we can watch him make the speech, or read it for ourselves.

Journalistic skills and experience are no less important in gathering, digging out, and presenting information. But in a new context and with new tools.
From the LGC

There are gaps in controls over councils setting up their own newspapers, industry executives have admitted.

Regulators currently have no power to step in when authorities spread political messages in their local publications, MPs were told.

Although by law, councils may not use the Town Hall Bugle for propaganda according to the 1986 Local Government Act.

“This Act prohibits councils from publishing any material which ‘whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect support for a political party’, but permits local authority publications to keep residents informed about what the council does for them,”

there is actually no one body to regulate them if they do.



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