McDonald slams culture of “spinning” the news

Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald has spoken out over the level of "spinning" currently affecting the work of British journalists.

Speaking at his first appearance during the Edinburgh television festival, McDonald said he felt more passionately than ever before about the crucial importance of robust, solidly based, inquiring and informative journalism.

McDonald said: "Everything has to be spun. Perhaps it was ever thus, but in my mind, never has it been so assiduously done and with such reckless disregard for facts."

He added: "One of the greatest challenges that we face as journalists is the determination of governments of all political hues and philosophies to manage and manipulate the news to protect themselves and to protect what they see as their interests."

He cited the example of the civil servant [Jo Moore] who emailed her colleagues saying that the 9/11 tragedy was a good opportunity to bury bad news. McDonald said that she was neither mad nor heartless, but merely "expressing the zeitgeist of the culture".

McDonald, who has reported from Iraq and Kosovo, also said that embedded reporters "were almost certainly a compromise too far" and that reporters who were not embedded "get shut down".

He said: "Embedded reporters is a kind of halfway house which gives the media some of what they want while the military can keep control of where they go and what they see."

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