Press censorship in the UK is not confined to proscribed groups in Northern Ireland or the Calcutt Review ofthe Press. According to freelance journalist Dave Hill, censorship is alive and well and
impinging on the whole of the media. ’
Everything from the subjects of Panorama investigations to what the English read about Scottish affairs is affected by censorship in one way or another.
The problem is that the censorship identified by Hill is too subtle to be confronted directly. When the Ulster Volunteer Force recently bombed the offices ofa Belfast newspaper to try and silence its outspoken attacks on paramilitaries and death squads, the threat was severe but easy to acknowledge. Far more insidious is the selfcensorship which emerges from journalists tailoring their work for commissioning editors and the chummy atmosphere between specialist political writers and their subjects.
‘Censorship is usually a very subtle thing. it is not the kind of news management we associate with Stalin,’ says Hill. ‘It’s to do with the values of the people involved and the direction in which power flows. When the power to set the agenda - what subjects are covered and the way they are covered — lies with editors and editorial managers rather than with journalists who actually go out into the real world.
then you have a recipe for blandness.
A recipe for serving the establishment rather than challenging it.’
On BBC’s Panorama. a whole
. series of programmes were altered.
held up or postponed. according to Hill. One. provocatively titled ‘Sliding into Slump’ and exposing the Thatcher-Lawson economic ‘miracle’ as a mirage was pulled just before it was due to go out on the eve of Norman Lamont’s pre-election budget. Whatever the reason for each individual change. the impact was lessened and Hill claims that
they all turned out to be critical of domestic government policy. He does not believe it is a conscious or deliberate policy, but one which stems. amongst other things. from a climate of neurosis after regular attacks from the Conservative Party.
Hill covered the run up to the recent general election as an outsider to the political process, casting a cynical and questioning eye over the way in which we were informed of our choices for parliament. He has written a book about his experiences on 'the stump’ up and down the country with candidates from all the political parties. One ofthe most telling episodes concerns the On the Record interview between Jonathan Dimbleby and the Liberal Democrats‘ President Charles Kennedy. Far from being an in-depth examination of policy it developed into a cosy little chat among friends.
‘Political journalists work within the world of Westminster and have to develop relationships of trust with the politicians,‘ Hill points out. ‘The media are supposed to be an intermediary between the real world and the powerful world. When you have too much of an emphasis on specialisation the world is presented in a very limited and narrow way.’ (Thom Dibdin)
( hit for the Count is published by Macmillan price £16. 99. Dave Hill will be in Glasgow on Sunday 8
November when he will be addressing .
the War. Lies and Censorship conference organised by Living Marxism at tlte Conference Centre, 266 George Street from 1 ()am—5 pm. Costf8 (£6).
_ Summit in the
A mini festival is being organised to merit the European Summit taking place in Edinburgh at the beginning of December. The series of indoor and outdoor events will focus on the Old
Town and cater for all tastes with everything from a Grassmarltet
Christmas Fair and street theatre on the Royal Mile to live music and a late night rave.
Full details of the programme are due
to be announced next week by Pete Irvine of Unique Events-the man who brought us the Big Day in Glasgow in 1990 and, more recently, the Edinburgh Castle esplanade concerts.
Anyone interested in taking a craft stall ? at the Grassmarltet Fair on Saturday 12
December is invited to contact Sean Bradley oi the Grassmaritet Area Group at112 West Bow, Edinburgh.
I Children In Need: Piano accordian virtuoso Phil Cunningham is currently building up his finger strength in preparation for a world record attempt as part of this year’s BBC Scotland’s Children In Need programme. On Friday 20 November, Cunningham will attempt to play the same note as many times as is humanly possible in one minute live on air. Viewers are invited to take part in a competition by estimating the number of notes played and sending this, with a donation, name, address and telephone number, to Children In Need, BBC Scotland, Glasgow G 12 8DG. Further details ofother aspects of the TV fundraiser will appear in the national press nearer the time.
I French Film Festival: Gerard Depardieu’s latest French language movie, Mon Pere Ce Héros, was the winner of the Courvoisier Audience Award at the UK’s first French Film Festival (The List 187), held concurrently at the Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse
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in October. Audiences at each screening were asked to rate the film on a scale of one to six, and totals were averaged out to give the overall winner. Mon Pere Ce Heros edged just ahead of lndochine, starring Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1P5. A similar audience award will be in operation at this year’s London Film Festival in the British Cinema section, with the winning ﬁlm taking a £10,000 prize sponsored by Tennents Gold Bier.
I Scottish Child: Scottish Child, the magazine that examines how social problems affect children north of the border, celebrates its fourth birthday with a special lecture in Edinburgh’s
Fruitmarket Gallery on Tuesday 10
November. Guest speaker will be Dr Dorothy Rowe, well-known psychologist and author, who will be asking ‘What Makes A Happy Scottish Child?’ Tickets priced £6 (£4 concessions) are available from Scottish Child, 40 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh.
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The List 6— 19 November 1992 5