Friday, May 26, 2006

Home Office accused of still burying bad news

From the Guardian,

"The Home Office has again released all of its statistical reports for the month at the same time, aggravating claims that it is placing reporters under "intolerable pressure" and "burying bad news".

Despite pleas from a group of home affairs correspondents, the Home Office has continued the practice, dubbed "research Thursday", of releasing all its reports on one day."

22 reporters have written to the Home Office Director of Communications:

"When a large number of documents were issued on the first 'research Thursday' after the general election, we were assured it was a one-off incident to clear a backlog generated by election purdah," the letter read.

"This is clearly not the case and this week's repetition leads many of us to fear that the practice has been instituted deliberately to 'bury bad news'. "If this is, indeed, the case such dishonourable tactics could only serve to damage the relationship between the home affairs correspondents and the Home Office press office."

I'm not sure what's worse, the Home Office's transparent tactics or the reporters' crying that they can't possibly report all the bad news on the one day. This need for the instant soundbite of the day on the part of the media, rather than in depth sustained research and reporting, contributes significantly to creating the kinds of politicians we have today. Here's a radical notion - maybe the reporters could take the time to study the documents and report on them over the course of the month they'll have to wait for the next Home Office news dump.. er.. research Thursday. We might even end up with some original and intelligent news reports.

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