Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 11, 2009

WD Apology (14) – The birth of The Media Standards Trust


When My Black Cat made her recent exclamation, she was well aware of how The Media Standards Trust came into being. After all, the information is available on the Media Standards Trust website for everyone to read.

It was the idea of Sir David Bell, Chairman of the Financial Times. It came to him when he was at a conference in Leeds in 2003.

Those attending the conference came from varied backgrounds ie not only from the media but from business, law, the police and interestingly, medicine. The MST website reports that those present seemed to think the media had become powerful but was neither transparent nor accountable and that the quality of news content was deteriorating.

The media contingency at the conference felt misunderstood.

“Those within the media felt those outside did not understand that news was going through a revolution, and that at the end of it all news organisations would have to be more transparent and accountable if they were to survive.

Both agreed that in the midst of this revolution standards were deteriorating. Journalists, short of time and money, were being asked to turn around more stories, in less time, on more platforms. News was becoming more inaccurate as a result. They were coming to rely more heavily on press releases and public relations material. They did not have the resources to pursue investigations.”

What then happened is interesting.

A little subgroup consisting of four people was formed. They were to go out and seek the opinions of others in the media and the general public. Over a period of two years, the opinion of 500 people was sought and nearly everyone thought the same.

It is not clear whether these four people attended the conference.

It is not clear whose opinions these four people sought, what format the questions took or the contents of the final report.


Suffice it to say on asking around during The Witching Hour, no-one in the witching community seems to have been asked – not witches, black cats or broomstick makers. But then we might have skewed the results.

My Back Cat, being a suspicious soul, thinks that the cross section of the type of people they say attended the original conference, suggests Common Purpose may have held it. However, I have told her we have no evidence of this and have reinforced to her that we are only accepting Grade A1 and Grade A2 criteria – i.e. information obtained from Julia Middleton’s book “Leading Beyond Authority” or from documentation definitely originating from Common Purpose e.g. a common purpose website. We will also accept information from websites which are clearly intertwingled with Common Purpose, for example, The Media Standards Trust website.

So, My Black Cat, you can think what you like, but we will not regard these joyrides of your imagination as evidence!

However, the four people who went out into the wilderness to seek the opinion of others were key figures within the Common Purpose outfit, of that there is no doubt.

They are:

Sir David Bell – Quoted in Julia Middleton’s Book “Leading Beyond Authority” and Chairman of Common Purpose International. (Evidence Level A1 and A2)

Julia Middleton – Wrote the Book “Leading Beyond Authority” and is Founder and Chief Executive of Common Purpose (Evidence Level A1 and A2)

Sir Cyril Chantler – Quoted in Julia Middleton’s Book “ Leading Beyond Authority” (Evidence Level A1)

Robert Peston – Mentioned in Common Purpose Website (Evidence Level A2)

So, you can see what is driving My Black Cat’s imaginary joy-ride.

More soon………

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  1. Came across this article, WD;

    Think you’ll find it interesting.

  2. Julie, there are some interesting aspects there.

    Not sure that paying for “Which” or ‘Crosswords” on-line is a good example. They are really specialist items a bit like fishing magazines or medical journals, I suppose. Don’t we just absorb the news – it just happens to be there but we don’t seek it out unless there is a big calamity?

    Linking news to other services might well be the way to make a profit so that the cost is essentially hidden from the customer. However, the BBC presumably would be in a strong position as “market leader” since it is already operating a system of hidden costs that can be easily adjusted.

    This can surely only hope to succeed for Rupert Murdoch if all newspapers participate. If some feel RM has a strong advantage, they might choose to keep their product free and hope to pick up a large proportion of his ex-readers. The wise ones might have seen this coming and tried to create a business out of a combination of subscription-only e-magazines with separate free e-newspapers, one carefully offsetting the cost of the other. Also, the ethical question might arise whether the creators and participants of news rather than those reporting it, should be paid too.

  3. I also followed up the link in that article to the story that Murdoch is already trying to take on Google and Yahoo for linking to his news stories.
    Interesting to see that commentator’s take on it, even if I’m not convinced myself.

    I came away from the above story with the impression that the people who care enough about watching live football matches online might also be willing to pay to read the bigoted views of Murdoch’s journalists. However anyone who wants some serious news will probably still look elsewhere.
    Although Murdoch is not as stupid as he sometimes appears to be, so I am sure he has a few ideas to make this plan work.

    One thing is looking quite clear to me: between this threatened clampdown on the use of links to news stories, and the idea of charging for online news content, there is a danger of bloggers becoming squeezed out of the picture.

  4. I suppose the question is whether individual bloggers might be silenced as bystanders in a system that becomes too cumbersome, or whether there will be an active attempt to make a legal example of the more troublesome ones. Time will tell. However, ordinary folks, when they choose to be, are mightier than the newspaper business. It seems to me it will not be possible to turn the clock back, and the blogosphere and freedom of speech will survive.


  5. I think they’re trying to kill two birds with one stone. The blogosphere is becoming a force to be contended with; Remedy would have never come about without it, and they would not have been able to pursue their court case without all the monetary contributions that were made. It also means that inside specialist info that normally wouldn’t make it into the public domain is doing so through anonymous professional bloggery. I had a sharp reminder today of what whistleblowers are up against; I wrote a blog post and mentioned Dr Rita Pal in passing. I had two anonymous comments pointing out that she wasn’t registered with the GMC and that this was due to an ‘administrative reason’. Either they were sitting with the GMC register on their lap, or they were one of those that have been spreading false rumours about her being struck off the register (which she wasn’t, it was for non-payment of fees). Not nice at all.

  6. The treatment Dr Rita Pal received was, by any standards, disgusting and all the more so because she was a very junior doctor at the time – straight out of university. It is difficult to imagine how difficult it must have been for her to have her hopes shattered at that stage, and how much courage must have taken to persistently confront the establishment face on the way she has done over the years. I’m sure she is making toes curl in high places and her fight for proper patient care will not turn out to be in vain.

    You’re so right about Remedy. MTAS/MMC was a major turning point in medicine and would never have happened without the internet platform.

  7. […] My Black Cat will be carefully watching the reaction of one of the Intertwingled Triplets i.e. The Media Standards Trust over the phone hacking business. She reckons they will be sharpening their rapiers to put a […]

  8. […] stay in the twilight of the Witch Doctor’s Networking Creep, there is no doubt that these closely Interwingled Triplets originate from the same […]


  10. […] If you have been reading this blog for ages, you will know that the Intertwingled Triplets are Common Purpose, Demos and The Media Standards Trust. […]

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