Saturday, August 05, 2006

Agenda Benders

Another lost archive, this time from when I was contributing to the BBC about blogs, and not a little miffed about editorial, if not censorship. Still worth sharing:

There is no doubt that power can turn the head of those who wield it. And there is equally no doubt that those who occupy any position of public profile in or for a major media organisation will inevitably find such a gift, and curse, bestowed upon them, willingly or merely as a consequence. And as will always be the way, such power can come in many forms, stemming equally from the way it has been wielded, from respect to to fear. With, in the case of media, perhaps one extra aspect, the desire to be heard. You may agree or disagree with someone who can lay claim to column inches or minutes of airtime. You may like or dislike them. But if you think there's the faintest chance that you may get to their audience by engaging with them in any way, it's worth the punt.

Until recently, access to the major media was quite simple. You were either part of the story-telling system, or part of the story. Now, with the advent of the forums and blogs sprouting everywhere, there is a chance at finding oneself as a potential profiled player in either, but most significantly the former, at least by temporary association. This can be heady stuff. And has been hailed as a new era in citizen journalism bringing a new dimension to the media fare we are served and/or can opt for.

But is it? With recent personal experience I can testify that what seemed to be a brave new world of equal access and freedom of speech can easily be manipulated by whomsoever controls the medium to meet their requirements, benign or otherwise.

For this reason I have now decided to try to avoid reading much less contributing to any other blogs, and concentrate solely on my own, using and quoting such information resources with whose provenance I have more confidence, at least historically. I will always have my own of course, and what I have written, and hence think, is there for all to read and judge accordingly, warts and all. And I think I will continue to avoid allowing replies, at least directly (I always welcome contact for personal discussion), to avoid any chance that what is on view (ie: from others) artificially adds weight to my own, inevitably subjective, viewpoints.

In short there will always be an agenda. It's silly to pretend, or believe, otherwise.

Me, myself... not

I have, it seems, a common name. First and last. Those Hugenots got about a bit. Hence I share it with quite a few folk. Some of note.

Usually this is quite fun. But then a Sunday Times journalist with my moniker wrote an expose of the Russian Mafia, so I was a bit concerned when any black cars with smoked windows drove past the house a bit too slowly.

And now this morning I was in front of the TV when Newswatch came on, pretty much starring in commentary and print... me! Only it wasn't. And this person's views were not mine at all. Now I have chosen to contribute to this programme before, and at the very least readers of this blog know it. So do most of my chums. Fortunately none of you are up at this time so it is not an issue.

But it did make me think. What was the point of the name? It could have been anyone. Even adding the town can still lead to a mis-identification of there are more than one of you.

I think it's mainly to ensure those that write in check to see if they have been mentioned, which at least means some sort of audience.

I certainly think that's true of the Telegraph system I have given up on since having a post edited (see recent previous blog). When I read the initiating article first thing there are no posts as the moderating (and editing) is taking place. But unless I have contributed I can't really be bothered to check subsequently.

Vanity, vanity, thy name is 'Cross of Ross'.

Asking for thirds

Just stumbled across some notes I took for my recent jaunt to London. Hate to waste, so here they are:

Did you know there a Third Sector? Until recently, I didn't. So it came as a bit of surprise to find we ( fall within it. It has an office. And a Minister.

And so it was that I was up at crack of dawn (and back in the wee small hours:( to attend an event snappily entitled 'Joint HM Treasury & Cabinet Office Review On The Future Role Of The Third Sector In Social & Economic Regeneration' in London, drearily.

Basically it's an outreach, recognising that there a bunch of folk 'out there' doing stuff that is quiet helpful to the social fabric, and that it wouldn't hurt to complement. I'd even go so far as to say 'they' had understood a bit of help, or at the very least reduction of hindrance, would go a long way to making things happy and happening.

It all kicked off with the inevitable speeches from the inevitable bevvy of pols, with the inevitable excuses for not hanging around beyond wishing us the best, Young Mr. Grace-style... 'you're all doing very well'. Ah well, busy folk, I guess, but it does strike one that for all the stories they tell of 'meeting real folk' you need to wonder when it is they actually do it. Actually a fairly sharp bunch, with a few young... so young. There was a nice balance of fresh enthusiasm, though already jading with trappings of power.

At least they are trying, which is why I committed to attend.

Was it worth it? Well, it was 15 unpaid/compensated hours of my life, plus car, return train and tube.

Basically it was two sets of workshops, where 'we' (social enterprisers) sat in groups and came up with answers to structured questions around themes such as:

* Promoting Innovation and Enterprise

* Future role of the sector in shaping and delivering public services

* Cohesive communities and building a voice for citizens

* Creating a sustainable resource base

It was all structured, which is necessary, but to me no so happily. Thanks to the schedules overrunning it was more important to do what we were meant to in the allocated space, rather than consider coming up with anything sensible. More process over product. I almost expected them to ask us to make sure we ticked the box and signed in.

But by some miracle a few useful discussions were had.

Plus a few 'debates'. I think I was a very lone 'commercial' social enterprise in a sea of NGOs, charities, etc, and all of whom knew this turf backwards.

I don't like being patronised by some smart-alek in a suit whose job and salary depends on dealing in process, when I have committed my whole being to product.

At least there was a nice buffet.

I have posted the thoughts I had on the site.

ps: On a small, but not unconnected note, for visual accompaniment I attach just some of the paperwork associated with it all. Note the natty folder. Now how much better had it been not immediately disposable, but rather had a second use? Just asking.