Reporting Hutton

by Chris Bertram on August 27, 2003

The Hutton inquiry seems to mark the total dissolution of any boundary between reporting and commentary. (Perhaps this is the counterpart, on the journos side of the dissolution of the boundary between information and spin on the government’s side). A prime example is surely this report of yesterday’s evidence in the Guardian. The report places fantastic weight on one word in one sentence, a word which admits of another quite reasonable and sensible interpretation. To whit:

bq. The dramatic last-minute call to come up with new evidence was contained in an email from an unnamed intelligence official. It said Downing Street wanted the document “to be as strong as possible within the bounds of available intelligence”.

The word “strong” is taken by the Guardian’s reporters as a synonym for – to use the current parlance – “sexy”. But “strong” might just as well mean something like “robust” in this context. It also seems reasonable that the government should wish that its briefings be the opposite of “weak”. (I don’t mean to single out the Guardian especially here, almost every report extrapolates an angle from the tiniest detail.)

{ 1 comment }


Kevin Drum 08.27.03 at 5:57 pm

It’s really gotten out of hand, hasn’t it? I almost did a post last night just comparing the headlines of the four broadsheets on the exact same story. It was like they were reporting from different planets.

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