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Peter Ungphakorn
1/10. Had a long chat with an old friend today. We both worked in information, briefing journalists etc. He did it most of his working life. Some of my working life was also on the other side, ie, a journalist receiving briefing. We got to talking about media coverage of Brexit.
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
2. Let's say we were both dissatisfied with it. And we were talking about the serious stuff. Not those inflammatory tabloid headlines. This was part of a longer chat about media manipulation and why the media are sometimes very tame. We had both seen it in our different ways.
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
3. We both felt too many journalists either didn't detect manipulation by their sources, or were reluctant to resist. Only some are critically-minded enough to sift out the spin. Too few bother to ask the PM "what have you proposed?" when he claims the UK is negotiating hard.
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
4. In my own experience 1 or 2 stand out. Like the then reporter from Neue ZĆ¼rcher Zeitung who always stood back thoughtfully, understanding the technical detail we briefed about, but refusing to be drawn into it because the bigger picture was more important. Keeping a distance
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
5. That was about technical trade issues. Brexit is different. It's a horrendously difficult subject to report on. Keeping a distance is an even bigger problem. Journalists, like anyone, can be drawn into a bubble. We get too close to our sources. We get conditioned by them.
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
6. So, journalists who spend their whole time in Westminster or with political parties, focus on party-political Brexit, or whether a leader will survive, or what the voting numbers are among MPs. Rarely the substance. But Brexit is much, much bigger than that, even politically
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
7. My friend and I agreed that many of the better reporters on Brexit are not in London, but in Brussels. They work for the BBC, RTE and the print media. My take on it is that they are forced to see the other side of the argument, to take a more rounded view
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
8. There's another angle: off-the-record and background briefings. Access to that kind of information is essential for good journalism. But it's also a privilege. One that can be withdrawn.
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
9. When a source, particularly close to the very top, gives confidential, usable information, it takes a brave journalist to report negatively on the source. The risk is losing access. So, critical reporting must be done carefully. And that's why journalists sometimes seem tame
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @CoppetainPU
10/ends. We know journalists can break out of the bubble, take a more rounded, distanced view, particularly about what they have been told. There are not many but we do see them. There are also some doing a valiant job checking facts. We need more of all of them.
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Peter Ungphakorn 18 Sep 19
Replying to @davidallengreen
That thread was inspired by a number of tweets today, including this one from
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