‘Thank God Blair called the media a feral beast’

28 June 2007

Question: What do you do when the Prime Minister has your newspaper in mind when he calls the news media “a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits”? Answer: Hope that somebody will ask his successor whether he agrees with the surmise.

Tony Blair launched into The Independent while speaking at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism . And sure enough a reader of the paper did the needful and asked Gordon Brown the question that would have been bugging Indy.

Question: Do you agree with Blair’s criticism of The Independent?

Brown: As I said at The Independent‘s 20th anniversary party, it is a great campaigning newspaper and it always has been. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with the campaigns or not.

Elsewhere, in The Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman argues that the Blair comment is nothing to be ashamed about. (Blair complained that the power of the press eclipses everything. For politicians, he revealed, “a vast aspect of our jobs today—outside of the really major decisions, as big as anything else—is coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity. At points, it literally overwhelms.” The result is an unhealthy relationship between government and journalists that “saps the country’s confidence and self-belief,” asserted Blair)

But Chapman says it’s a relief to hear the comment:

“What a relief. Working in a field that, we are told, is increasingly irrelevant and outmoded, it’s nice to know that someone still regards the news media as capable of sapping the self-esteem of 61 million people who are not known for self-pity and who boast a heritage of Shakespeare, empire and the Beatles.”

Read the full article (free registration): Confessions of a feral beast

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