"Feral" media - my thoughts
Thanks for all your comments.
I don't agree with those like Ed Smith who say that Tony Blair's view of the media is invalid simply because he invested so much energy initially wooing us. I'm glad he's kickstarted an important debate at an important time. I sense that Michael and Jon may speak for many in complaining about BBC journalists interviewing other BBC journalists. It is simply a way of trying to bring a more conversational tone to our journalism but I agree that it's overused.
Now my verdict on the speech.
I think it's hard to argue with the prime minister's description of a more and more fragmented and competitive media which places an ever higher value on "impact" and is wary of "missing out" on a breaking story. In this respect we are, as he says, "not the masters of this change but its victims".
I can and do argue, though, with his assertion that BBC journalists have traded accuracy for impact and policy insights for allegations of misconduct. As I said in my own lecture on this subject we must try harder to focus on policies not just personalities, to resist a constant diet of sleaze allegations and to give context.
Whilst Tony Blair did acknowledge the role of "spin" in increasing cynicism about politics, he would have wrongfooted those journalists who want to avoid self examination if he'd also reflected on the impact of his promise to be "purer than pure" - and of those missing weapons of mass destruction. These surely go some way to explain why the welcome changes he initiated - for example, monthly news conferences and cross examination by select committee chairmen - didn't do more to improve the atmosphere.
I think he may reflect in future on his assertion that governments are overwhelmed by the constant need to respond to the media. We may be about to see this put to the test. We've grown used to a prime minister who reacts to major news stories with a comment or a summit or a visit. Gordon Brown has long adopted a policy of silence interrupted by carefully planned high profile announcements. It is, I believe, an approach he hopes to maintain. It will be fascinating to see if he can do it.