Bloggers generally ask questions, invite comment, engage in discussions, listen to other viewpoints. Some journalists and newspaper websites do likewise. But not all.
There has been much written (including by myself) about the journalism of Christopher Booker (Telegraph), in the wake of judicial criticism of his writing.
I have written two posts: “Brought to Booker” and more recently “Booker Booby Prize” and “Booker v Bellamy Round 2“. Although others apparently within his orbit have commented there has been nothing from Mr Booker in my comments moderation inbox.
But now Mr Booker, in the course of an article about a mother involved with social services whose cause he has been “championing” has responded, after a fashion, to his critics. He says,
I was again attacked last week by a prominent legal blogger, for reporting on cases where the system appears to be going tragically wrong, without having sat for days in court to hear “both sides of the story”.
This barrister compared me to a sports writer who cannot be bothered to watch a football match, but relies on a version given by one player after the game. But would a journalist attend a match when he is forbidden to name the teams or any of the players, may be imprisoned for disclosing much of what happens on the pitch, and is even prohibited from giving the final score?
This I think must be a reference to Adam Wagner’s recent blog post “Must journalists attend court hearings to report accurately?” (UK Human Rights Blog – earlier post on Mr Booker here).
Would a journalist attend the match if “he is forbidden to name the teams or any of the players, may be imprisoned for disclosing much of what happens on the pitch, and is even prohibited from giving the final score?” Self evidently not. But then sports journalism is about entertainment and not about matters of public interest. I would expect a journalist reporting on matters of public interest, and which are technically complex to adopt a different approach from a reporter at a cup match.
Adam’s analogy works only so far – it is apt in respect of the point about reliability and impartiality of source, but Booker attempts to recruit it in order to demonstrate the point that it doesn’t make commercial sense for journalists to attend court in family cases.
This exposes the real issue – having made the decision that it is not commercially justified to attend the “fixture” would a responsible journalist nonetheless go ahead and report the match anyway? One would hope not – at least not without verifying his information / sources. That Booker has overlooked dealing with this point is illuminating.
That Booker has chosen to respond through the medium of The Telegraph website only, without referencing the UKHR Blog article by hypertext link and with comments disabled is similarly indicative of approach (fingers in ears “la la la” and most definitely not new media).
Looking forward to receiving the accolade of Telegraph’s Most “prominent legal blogger” soon…;-)
Update: Adam Wagner’s response here.