Sunday, August 24, 2003

Compulsive viewing

The other day, James at VoxP was likening Hansard to a blog and perhaps wishing that it were in language that were more accessible to the public. This weekend I was stunned to see that the Hutton Inquiry is a blog too. Every word is online. I may have been slow in finding this out and I've noone around to ask if I've been asleep for a couple of weeks. The reporting from the court has become compulsive reading over the last few days, if only to try and get a sense of the "trial by swingometer" approach of the media. I've tried to come up with an analogy for how the reporting works but it seems to me perhaps it's as simple as a boxing match. After every round, the different judges (the papers, the online media, the TV channels) mark a score down. The problem is that such an approach works fine in boxing because you know that sometimes the match goes to 15 rounds and then a winner emerges (yet, you don't know the score the judges have applied in each round until the end). Sometimes though there's a knockout and the winner is even clearer. But scoring an inquiry by the same method just doesn't seem to make any sense to me. Like I said, it's swingometer stuff. Once the hearing is done and all the evidence is out, the full chain can be seen - but how many people can take the time to understand the entire argument through reading what was said and looking at the evidence (not all of the documents are public on the website), versus the number who get the potted, slanted version from whichever newspaper they read?

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