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How and why I blog

Robert Peston | 16:35 UK time, Thursday, 10 February 2011

This is an interview I did for the BBC's College of Journalism on how and why I blog. It is probably of more interest to my Mum than to anyone else. But if you have an incredibly idle five minutes, it might be less painful than sticking pins in your eyes.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Ahhh !! We love you too Robert

  • Comment number 2.

    But what about us ?

  • Comment number 3.

    "it might be less painful than sticking pins in your eyes"

    Robert - I only tried the utilitarian way and tried to compare the experiences - now my eyes are bleeding and I can't see properly.....!

    Please confess Robert - have you ever blogged on the toilet? That is when you know you're taking it too far...

    Keep on blogging Robert!

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank you Robert for your blogs. At least sometimes you are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers in the City of London of those well feathered bankers and hedge fund managers. However, most of the time I miss in your blogs more in-depth systemic and structural analyses, to expose how one part of the 'big society' (the financial oligarchy and their servants, i.e the political leaders) live rather well and share rather little of their wealth (think of tax havens, tax rules, money creation monopolies, etc).
    For further information and for some resources and ideas for your future blogs please visit:

    Yours sincerly, invisiblehandadvisor

  • Comment number 5.

    Perhaps the BBC College of Journalism should teach how to white balance and set exposure on a video camera. Framing is OK. Not sure about the slight "head jump" edit.

  • Comment number 6.

    Robert - do you ever have time (or can be bothered) to read these comments?

  • Comment number 7.

    I wouldn't fancy your chances for a long and prosperous life if you did decide to drop the blog!

    Remember, us posters are an international lot. We'd find you - of that you can be certain.

    So don't even thinkaboutit!

    PS: Thanks.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good stuff - nice to see some pride and passion there and also rather endearing to see a bit of real ego - justified to my eyes because this is really crucial stuff.

    Although some of the Bollinger Bullies who post on here dismiss everyone who disagrees with them as drooling lefties (and blame Robert for the whole global crisis in the first place), I am actually a very puzzled and angry middle class former Labour voter who has had his eyes opened by your posts and the extraordinary discussions that follow.

    This is the biggest story in the world to my mind - the possibility of the financial services machine hoovering up up all the money in the world and - ultimately - itself is pretty terrifying.

    And in the back of my mind I wonder - given the suppression of references to a recent article in the Guardian - is this blog post a shot across the bows of people who are leaning on you to 'tone it down a bit old boy if I were you'?

  • Comment number 9.

    I can't play this due to my current location, I will watch later though.

    But I do hope you realise that a 30 year long repressive regime is on the verge of being toppled due to an "uprising" inspired largely by bloggers on "social media" sites such as twitter and facebook. Maybe the same could happen in other parts of the world - all that is needed is a blogger to spark the people into action, someone whose face and voice is well known, someone who perhaps appears nightly on a our television screens to tell us about the latest chapter in the collapse of capitalism. One blog, that might be all it takes, so keep blogging Robert.

  • Comment number 10.

    Fascinating - I think it's great that you (as well as others at the BBC) have committed yourselves to this medium.

    Definitely agree that a 2-minute bulletin on the news doesn't provide the same level of insight as a detailed analyses of a topic in a blog. I rarely watch the actual news on TV but I always read your blog, as well as those of Stephanie Flanders, etc. And I feel like I learn a lot in doing so.

  • Comment number 11.

    Glad you enjoy your work Robert, which is stating the obvious. Thank you.

  • Comment number 12.

    I must admit this confirms to me that BBC News reporters have gone well beyond their brief. Again and again RPs blog clearly strays into the field of "opinion" - he says as much in this piece. He says he writes about what he feels like and things he thinks are important with virtually no limitation on the scope or content. But I think a very careful line has to be drawn between reporting the news, and giving analysis of it, and giving us his opinions.

    There is no doubt to me at least that the blog has become the centrepiece of his work at the BBC (he says as much) and has ballooned well beyond its original remit, becoming a sort-of soapbox for him to give out (spout? ruminate on?) his views, rather than his main focus, which is to *report* on business stories.

    There can be no doubt that Robert has clearly set the agenda in the UK throughout the financial crisis. Undoubtedly this was, and continues to be, significantly aided by the platform that being on the BBC offers. But at least to me the BBC isn't there for this. Newspapers have opinion pieces - clearly labelled - and so do magazines. But my personal opinion is that the BBC should not because of its power as the state broadcaster. When you have the lead item on the 10 o'clock news being RP directing everyone to his blog (which happened several times in the past 18 months) there's clearly something wrong.

    RP isn't the only one of the BBC News reporters to do this. But he is the most high profile, undoubtedly.

    Happy for him to have views, and to report them in this style, I just don't think that that is compatible with being a BBC reporter too. Head back into print journalism if that's what you want.

    PS. This is honest criticism. Please don't accuse me of being a BBC-hater or Right-wing stooge. I'm really not.

  • Comment number 13.

    Indeed, pins would be worse! Keep on blogging... Robert.


  • Comment number 14.

    12 - nice post and well put - but I can't agree. Print is a dying medium, the plaything by and large of a few rich men who have no compunction in bending the news to suit their views. The point about Robert's blog is that if he treads near the line - as you see it - you have the right to complain immediately and in the blog itself - many do and in fact you just have.

    I think the critics are from all parts of the spectrum. He gets accused of being a city stooge as well as being a typical leftie Bolshevik Broadcasting Company freeloader... which isn't to dismiss the right-wingers on here at all.

    Good journalists have always done far more than just report the facts regardless of the medium. A long line of BBC journalists have been associated with geographical or specialist areas and followed en masse because their stories hold up.

  • Comment number 15.

    This blog is one of my "eyes" on our troubled world, the bloggers offer a wealth of opinion and knowledge, this stuff is compulsory reading initiated by your comments Robert.

    Robert Peston, I may not always see eye to eye with you but I do salute you Sir.

  • Comment number 16.

    "8. At 17:53pm on 10th Feb 2011, FauxGeordie wrote:

    And in the back of my mind I wonder - given the suppression of references to a recent article in the Guardian - is this blog post a shot across the bows of people who are leaning on you to 'tone it down a bit old boy if I were you'?"

    Assuming you are referring to George Monbiot's article then I would hardly call 13 (I think) references to it in the comments on Robert's last blog 'suppression'. I don't know exactly what agenda the people repeatedly publishing it are following but assuming they want people to read it it's had the opposite effect on me. I think a short ban for anyone else posting the link would send a suitable message.

  • Comment number 17.

    Having watched it, Robert, I agree with Jack Nicholson’s Garrett Breedlove.

    No. Not really. I don’t want to feud with anyone. And on that subject. You and Eddie Mair are still at loggerheads two days back at least?

    May I suggest the movie Terms Of Endearment. Seriously this time?

    I’ll stand you both a tub of popcorn!

  • Comment number 18.

    Robert, thank you for the opportunity to blog.
    My "beef" has always been the same.....
    To all core-financial workers...
    Continue the good work Robert.

  • Comment number 19.

    8. At 17:53pm on 10th Feb 2011, FauxGeordie wrote:

    “is this blog post a shot across the bows of people who are leaning on you to 'tone it down a bit old boy if I were you'?”

    I got the same feeling. This is what I got:

    This is me
    This is what you will loose
    What have I done that was wrong it as been fully researched
    I will continue doing it in the future, were ever I am

    I am rather shocked that QE hasn’t raised it head!

  • Comment number 20.

    Da big man say: "How and why I blog"

    Man, I thought it was cus the beeb gave you da money for da blog, doh!

  • Comment number 21.

    Carry on Blogging Robert. I don't always manage to catch the TV news, so reading various BBC blogs helps keep me up to date.

  • Comment number 22.

    I started a blog today too Robert! I'm still trying to get the hang of it! I'd give you the link to it but I don't know how. (I'm guessing you got a few lessons in blogging - either free or at a discount as you are into Economics!) Anyway, my husband sent me your link and I watched your video clip. I am now going to look and see if Stephanie (of Stephanomics) has got a blog. She is the only other Economist I've heard of - apart from Keynes - which I read many years ago to get my B at Economics A'Level. I must say 'Blogspot' don't make it easy to give out the links - but have a go at finding mine. It's called 'Endofpartone' and I plan to blog about Sales, Marketing, Advertising and Branding. Just think what I could have done if I'd got an A in Economics!

  • Comment number 23.

    Nice interview, It was the sheer size of the figures that were being bandied about that made me seek out the information that Robert had to offer. The blog though, does get 'hijacked' quite a bit by people venting their political spleens (which is interesting too...sometimes !). But well done Robert keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 24.

    You can continue to go beyond your remit for me Mr Peston, you can continue to put your own views forward. This blog is quite inspirational. It is always very informative, further enhanced with informed opinion from insightful bloggers who contribute to it greatly.

    Sail into the wind for me sir, never mind close to it. Never before has the need for this become so crytal clear to me, badly practiced and out of date as my economics is.

    Your specials on the state of our financial sector are in my view outstanding, as is your handling and insightful reporting of our government's big players.

    Thank you Robert Peston,
    Thank you bloggers, its a continuing education. Long may it continue!

  • Comment number 25.

    Keep blogging Robert, and so will we. This is the only environment, where for the most part, the freedom of speach remains, and we can avoid the world of rose tinted goggles media. I just hope you absorb some of the material that you read, good or bad, for future reference.

  • Comment number 26.

    After reading some of the comments here I'm starting to wonder whether you actually are under pressure to close this blog down. Most other blogs I have visited do not come close to the standard of information and commentary you present here. The numbers of comments and the information and links provided by the many knowledgeable, experienced, interesting, well informed and diverse individuals who contribute bear testament to that.

    I also enjoyed "Too big to save" and have a lengthy list of other material to improve my education which would keep you busy for years regarding currencies, capital flows, commodities and the changing nature of national and global regulatory structures.

    Please. Don't go. Where will I get my daily reality check?

  • Comment number 27.

    8. At 17:53pm on 10th Feb 2011, FauxGeordie wrote:

    Perhaps because that same link was being posted over and over again, or maybe because the moderators felt it conflicted with their editorial guidlines. There's a lot of them to sift through, I'm sure one or two are relevant.

    Speaking of the article itself, if the BBC were to publish their own expose on the story they'd need to confirm Monbiot's findings. The BBC is supposed to maintain impartiality after all.

    As it stands, George Monbiot's story is based upon three sources. Richard Brooks, who was the one resposible for ousting the £6 billion tax dodge by Vodafone... which may or may not be true. HM and Revenue didn't seem to think so at least, the BBC did not comment and merely reported both sides:

    Second source is a book called Treasure Islands. Can't comment on that, havn't read it.

    Third source is 'senior tax staff who can't be named. Can't comment there either.

    After this there are the policy documents linked. I don't have that much spare time nor a head for corporate tax law so I'd have to go off Manbiot's word for the interpretation.

    On his word then:
    Manbiot has an excellent background in investigative reporting and commententary. Especially in the field of Climate change and using reason to challenge others on conspiracy theories. However when it comes to finance, business and capatilism he has little background.

    A good example here is his book 'Age of Consent' written in 2003 which we can now look on with some hindsight. Reviews have stated that it's Intelligent, though provoking, utopian and idealistic but filled with assumptions which are not backed up by evidence. One Amazon review makes a useful point of note here:

    ""[The WTO and IMF] will pursue only the policies in the developing world which are of benefit to the economy of the United States and the interests of the financial speculators, even when these conflict directly with the needs of the poor."? If not the political equivalent of creationism, this is, at the very least, a highly contentious statement.

    To offer such a statement without supporting evidence suggests, basically, that the book is written for those who are already of a certain mindset about how the world works. "

    This matches with his current blog article. It makes assumptions about the government dismantling the NHS early on. Also that "These measures will drain not only wealth but also jobs from the UK. The new legislation will create a powerful incentive to shift business out of this country and into nations with lower corporate tax rates. " Although apparently the idea was to drop corporate tax in the UK to 24% 'making the UK one of the most competetive Tax rates in the western world' and does not take into account things such as infrastructure in the UK or the costs of such a move.

    In the end Monbiot's background does not make him an authority on the matter. His comments are notably biased against government from both this blog and his history. Lastly his final two paragraphs decend into a conspiracy theory style rant which tingles with irony considering his earlier 9/11 and does nothing but harm his argument.

    Aditionally it appears the documents regarding these changes have been out since July last year, and only Monbiot + Brooks have been keen eyed enough to notice these shocking apocalyptic issues. A quick net search a few days back when it was first linked only came up with some dry accountancy pages noting some law changes but posting no opinions. That strikes me as odd.

    All this considered Monbiot's word alone on the matter simply isn't reliable enough to accept as true. So, considering this, how about we let Mr. Preston and the BBC investigate this claim properly before they make a story out of it. I'm sure they have the time and resources.

  • Comment number 28.

    Again nice to see some commitment and beliefs carried forward without bias.

    Your blog is also a great source of amusement and knowledge to me. I especially Like the clash of ideologies of the posters and has lead me to re-evaluate my own beliefs (I thought I was a bit left of centre but now realise that I was a bit right of centre), Capitalist, Marxists, Company lackeys, Fascists… all life is here…

    Possibly the best blog on the planet, bar none.

    If I have a complaint it’s that the moderators (on occasion) seem to take ages to publish posts.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hello Robert
    With so limited feed back on this post, it may be that you will actually read the comments.

    I would like to understand who censors contributions to your blog. It is called moderation but in practice it is censorship. I have had one of my contributions removed - not because it wasn't a reasonable comment, but because it challenged journalistic bias at the BBC. I would be interested in your comments on that.

    This censorship was made all the worse when, several days later, the bbc news website had on its front news page a picture of a woman being subject to sado-masochistic bondage. I asked for the picture to be removed on the basis that my young daughters had access to the BBC news site and that I did not think it appropriate that they should be subject to pornographic material. The so-called moderator on that occasion told me that the BBC "had no control" over the images portrayed on its news website. Extraordinary.

    I think BBC journalism has a major credibility issue. Lack of regulation. Lack of basic journalistic responsibility. This environment simply devalues contributions from top BBC journalists. So how do you fix this?

  • Comment number 30.

    Perhaps a sensible step is for the so-called moderators to publicly disclose who they are. For all I know, it cold be a descrited BBC drunk who has been handed the role as an alternative to dismissal. In fact, it has taken the moderator so long to clear the last two comments that one can only assume he/she has rushed out to the nearest pub to get a last order or two in before closing time. Or maybe to indulge in a quick half hour of BDSM?

  • Comment number 31.

    #29 Stedmund

    I second that. About the only time I ever had a comment "moderated" was when it was critical of Robert Peston's (lack of) journalistic intergrity.

  • Comment number 32.

    Finally, and hopefully, to close this blog. Let us pose a philosphical question to Robert over journalistic integrity. Some weeks ago Robert provided a coup that was widely broadcast across the BBC. And let us give Robert great credit that, although this coup was outside his specialism, nonetheless he was asked to report on it.

    Now supposing someone produced credible evidence to Robert to show that one of the top BBC executives was, let us say, abusing his wife by, let us imagine, forcing her to have sex with strangers. How would the BBC's internal system of censorship deal and its ideals of journalistic integrity and cope with that kind of incident? Let us remember tht this is just a hypothetical question.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well for me i would like to thank the author and his employer for allowing people to comment from all perspectives this allows me to take on board ideas i had never even thought of, many thanks to all the major contributors for making me realise many things that would have slipped by if i had just allowed myself to read any one of a number of " well thought of commentators articles"

    Blogs like this are great for allowing all people to have a point of view .Even if many of late have been first time banking apologist posts which has only served to show that this blog is important and views are changing.

  • Comment number 34.

    @27. Fair points all round. I read and agreed the article in question but didn't really look into the sources. It's interesting how there's been not a peep of it from anywhere else, which could mean either massive global conspiracy to stamp out the truth, or there's not much in it. Occam's razor suggests the latter. I'd be interested to see a BBC take on it as, to be honest, I think the BBC generally and Robert in particular do a good job of remaining impartial.

    I think this blog is great, and contrary to what a few people have said I don't think Robert editorialises much. I think, if anything, he puts a ball into play and then lets the wind take it where it will. Generally there's a great mix of very informed comments and a surprisingly small number of looneys for such a significant topic.

    A lot of great information and analysis comes out of the posts and comments on blog. Good work all, keep going.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh Mr P...we do not always agree with you but we adore you nevertheless.

  • Comment number 36.

    PS I do not think that R is impartial. I think that the 2006 Act is being marginalized sometimes.

  • Comment number 37.

    29. At 22:14pm on 10th Feb 2011, stedmund40 wrote:
    "I think BBC journalism has a major credibility issue. Lack of regulation. Lack of basic journalistic responsibility. This environment simply devalues contributions from top BBC journalists. So how do you fix this?"

    I'm not sure whether I agree or disagree with this.
    On the one hand I am dying for serious commentators like Robert to actually say what they think with no fear or favour. I also really want to know whether any of the ideas posted on here have affected his thinking.

    On the other hand I reluctantantly accept the anodyne reporting of the BBC because it is paid for from a universal licence fee and this does permit the possibility of intellectually challenged or corrupt politicians using the medium for their own ends.

    Blogs however are a different kettle of fish. We must protect this freedom of speech. Even Lindsay must have the right to deny that there is a revolution going on in Hendon right now.

  • Comment number 38.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 39.

    Robert, don't you feel your reputation is diminished since you started blogging as Murdoch's PR man?

    Nice to see the Barclay brothers wasting their money though:

  • Comment number 40.

    Blog 12 says "Again and again RPs blog clearly strays into the field of "opinion"

    Robert's analyses could be called opinion but we realise their not for profit objectivity and such blogs are the greatest aid to democracy. We get Murdoch's opinion which is his personal political and we balance it against that.

    Robert's blog indeed demonstates his authority on certain things and gives us all a voice, so that we can ask questions of eg. Barclays and expect them to be answered. If Barclays won't answer our great journalists, they shouldn't be in this democracy underwritten by us, but should move to North Korea or somewhere like that.


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