Sunday, October 22, 2006

The price of spin

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'.

A couple of weeks ago, the Guardian ran two
supplements 'in association with' the DfES, drooling over the DfES’ ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda. This is, amongst other things, the rationale for building databases and keeping children and their families under scrutiny.

The articles trotted out several of the old chestnuts, including the one about ECM being a response to the death of Victoria Climbie. In fact, as we’ve said
before , it was no such thing. It was a response to the Government strategy unit’s paper ‘Privacy and Data-sharing: the way forward for public services’, published nearly a year before Lord Laming’s report into Victoria’s death. It is not about children at risk of harm.

They also made much of the fact that ‘children themselves’ had chosen the Government’s ‘five outcomes’, the performance indicators at the heart of ECM. The DfES’
research report shows that children were in fact given eight pre-defined choices from which they had to select the final five.

(It’s worth mentioning that subsequent research on information-sharing has demonstrated that children
don’t want their teachers to have access to the planned Information Sharing index, but DfES doesn’t seem to be listening to that.)

The Guardian says that it offers '
Bespoke, branded editorial communications
All …sections have a very successful history of developing bespoke editorial communications for readers and website users. Such communications allow clients to work with our expert journalists to establish their "thought leadership" around a particular issue, and to set the editorial agenda within their area of business/expertise.
OK, so they sell advertising supplements. We're just rather astonished that the Guardian is prepared to take our money to allow the DfES to establish its 'thought leadership' over us.


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