Friday, 29 July 2011

What I'm reading…

In yet more proof that fiction is an essential guide to human behaviour, I'm processing the News of the World story by reading Howard Brenton's and David Hare's 1985 'Fleet Street Comedy', Pravda. Here's the Frank Rich quotation from the New York Times review which is on the back cover:
Pravda is an epic comedy: part The Front Page, part Arturo Ui - in which a press baron resembling Rupert Murdoch… does battle with over 30 characters as he conquers Fleet Street journalism and, by implication, liberal England's soul.
Mr Le Roux, the Murdoch avatar, turns broadsheets into tabloids and poisons the public sphere by deliberately dumbing-down the debate, while truth is replaced with whatever suits the business aims of his company. It's got leaks, dishonesty, fraud, arrogance, betrayal and incompetence.

Here's an extract on the nature of press-politician relationships:

The press and politicians. A delicate relationship. Too close, and danger ensues. Too far apart, and democracy itself cannot function. There must be an essential exchange of information. Creative leaks, a discreet lunch, interchange in the lobby, the art of the unattributable telephone call, late at night – ‘A source close to the Prime Minister’, meaning ‘the Prime Minister’. Yes. This mutual relationship is a good thing, and if it can be made concrete, formalised by an actual commercial arrangement...If I, for instance, were to offer you my private skill and influence, and in return you were to guarantee me access to your newspapers, if the channels of free expression were to be...(He pauses)...channelled in my direction, if ‘Man Of Steel’ were to be a regular feature, a column, written by myself, by me then democracy would be safeguarded. And we would have a very satisfactory deal.
Pravda; Act I Scene III 

Sound familiar?

No comments: