Tony Blair says he knows his speech on the media "will be rubbished in certain quarters." I'd hate to disappoint him, so here goes:
We need, at the least, a proper and considered debate about how we manage the future.
This begs the question. What we need is a debate about whether we manage the future.
The main BBC and ITN bulletins used to have audiences of 8, even 10 million. Today the average is half that....In 1982, there were 3 TV stations broadcasting in the UK. Today there are hundreds. In 1995 225 TV shows had audiences of over 15 million. Today it is almost none.Newspapers fight for a share of a shrinking market....There are roughly 70 million blogs in existence, with around 120,000 being created every day. In particular, younger people will, less and less, get their news from traditional outlets.
True. Which shows that the conventional media are becoming less important. So why obsess about it?
In the 1960s the government would sometimes, on a serious issue, have a Cabinet lasting two days. It would be laughable to think you could do that now without the heavens falling in before lunch on the first day.
No. The heavens wouldn't fall in - they would appear to fall in. But then Blair has always failed to recognize this distinction. It's led him to make hasty decisions, rather than better, longer thought-out ones.
A vast aspect of our jobs today - outside of the really major decisions, as big as anything else - is coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity. At points, it literally overwhelms. Talk to senior people in virtually any walk of life today - business, military, public services, sport, even charities and voluntary organisations and they will tell you the same.
This is no accident. "Senior people" are all managerialists. And because managerialists are incapable of actually controlling their organizations well, they focus instead on giving the impression of controlling them. This is why they invest so much in PR, and why they think the media is so important.
There will often be as much interpretation of what a politician is saying as there is coverage of them actually saying it. In the interpretation, what matters is not what they mean; but what they could be taken to mean.
This foillows from the opacity of so many political speeches. Politicians are incapable or unwilling to make clear coherent arguments, so these have to be deciphered for us.
It used to be thought - and I include myself in this - that help was on the horizon. New forms of communication would provide new outlets to by-pass the increasingly shrill tenor of the traditional media. In fact, the new forms can be even more pernicious, less balanced, more intent on the latest conspiracy theory multiplied by five.
Not again. When will the political class get it through their thick skull - that Guido and Iain Dale are not typical of all blogs.