Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Journalistic License

Last Sunday, Andrew Marr's guest, Telegraph journalist Andrew Pierce, claimed his description of Neil Kinnock falling "headfirst" into the sea on Brighton's beach, was journalistic license. It was certainly an off the cuff remark, but what is journalistic license and how often is it used?

Colourful writing undoubtedly enhances a story, conjuring up strong images for our entertainment, but how does that marry with the facts of the matter? Does it tarnish the truth? Can we trust what we read?

This last question has an enormous impact on democracy. As does The Sun's claim to switch its support to the Conservatives today.

Interactive Democracy (ID) may employ various strategies for counteracting this:

  1. The ID Internet interface should allow voters to list the plus, minus and interesting points for each proposal, as an interactive document, supervised by the web master. More on this here.

  2. There could be a legal requirement for the news media and politicians to tell the truth, using a system similar to the Advertising Standards Authority. More on this here.

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