The David Kelly story will run and run throughout the summer. At the time of writing it is still 'an apparent suicide' but lets face it the conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day. We will never no for sure if it was suicide or murder by any one of a number of intelligence agencies from MI5 and the CIA to Mossad or even one of Saddam's henchmen.
But what's of interest to me from a PR perspective is the tone the media coverage is already taking on - almost unanimously blaming the 'government' and exonerating journalists. Despite the fact that members of Kelly's family and friends have already fingered the BBC.
What is depressing about this whole affair is that there is no way of reading or viewing reports that I trust. The media establishment have drawn the wagons around Andrew Gilligan (the 'guilty' BBC reporter).
A viewer survey currently running on Sky News asks "Who should resign?" - Alistair Campbell (press secretary), Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon (defence secretary) or no one. Where is the objectivity? Why the hell isn't Gilligan or any of his bosses at the BBC listed? These people should be punished severely for what they have done to the democratic process.
In 14 years of professional PR I've seen a depressing decline in journalistic standards. I know from personal experience that the BBC Today programme, in common with almost every other media outlet I've ever dealt with, has extremely sloppy fact checking.
Today even the BBC, once the bastion of impartial reporting allows spin and distortion into its so called news reports. Too frequently it is because a reporter wants to appear tough but in doing so reveals their ignorance.
A good example was recent interview of Dick Caborn (tourism minister) on Newsnight. He was being asked about the proposed new licensing laws and was repeatedly challenged about the Dublin experience which had led to increased alcohol related problems. He answered that Dublin wasn't relevant because the legislation was totally different (simply extending opening hours rather than complete reform). But it made no difference to Andrew Vine, the interviewer, who doggedly went through his list of questions which now made no sense because they were based on a false premise. But Vine continued, simply to show that he could be as tough as Jeremy Paxman and could bash a government minister with the best of them.
Don't get me wrong I want to see good journalism and the government held to account. But with FACTS rather than the selected spin that the media uses these days.
How ironic that the media constantly moans about being subjected to government spin, when the media itself is the biggest culprit. If what could trust political journalists to report truthfully and honestly then their would be a lot less need for so called spin by the government.