Yesterday, Simon Jenkins told a story that is strangely familiar to us.
Sensitive readers may avert their eyes, for this column concerns this newspaper and its relations with the Blair government and, dare I say it, money. On Wednesday they may have noticed a special section called Promised Lands…
The section ominously carried no advertising, but was not headed “advertising supplement”. Yet it was paid for by the government’s Housing Market Renewal Partnerships – which agreed the synopsis – to boost the controversial Pathfinder housing policy. In return for a large sum of money, the agency was offered pre-sight of the copy to “correct inaccuracies”. In effect, it secured sympathetic coverage. None of the writers (nor the Guardian’s readers) was told of this, or that their fees were being paid, in effect, by the Blair government. Some were given to understand that they were writing for the Observer.
Funnily enough, excatly the same thing happened last October, only on that occasion the subject was ‘Every Child Matters’ – the government’s database ‘n’ information-sharing agenda. As we wrote at the time:
We’d always thought of the Guardian as a newspaper that could be trusted to give thoughtful comment about social issues. No doubt the government thinks so too. Presumably that is why they chose to pay Guardian journalists to write a puff on ‘Every Child Matters’.
The rest is here.
HT: Liberal England