Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Better late than never: Paul Mason warns political journalists: 'You have no real idea what is going on'

Signs of the Times
Ex-Channel 4 News economics editor tells International Journalism Festival that making a film about Greece gave him new insight into reporters' knowledge Paul Mason has warned political and economic journalists that most of the time they have no real idea what is going on. Speaking at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Mason said he was now in a position to see both sides of political and economic reporting. "And I think we need to understand that we [journalists] generally know very little about what is really happening." He specifically questioned whether journalists covering Labour in the UK had any understanding of what was actually happening within the party. This lesson, he said, was one of the key things he learnt from covering last year's Greek crisis very closely, in the process of making the documentary This is a Coup. The film-making team were granted unprecedented access in 2015 to the inside workings of the Alexis Tsipras government during pivotal moments of Greece's ongoing economic crisis. Mason said that, having been on the inside, he could see "there were times when we would sit among other journalists, and we would realise they had no idea what's going on. They were really good, and it's not their fault, but they had no idea what was going on." He had some sympathy for the plight of the press pack in Brussels: "If you are one of those poor people who have to report Brussels, you'll know how difficult it is, even for the guys with the press passes, to get the story. They just get handed effectively a series of semi-leaks and spun information."