Tuesday, May 22, 2007
While I was away - not in Mevagissey, I just went there, but somewhere much more tasteful, discreet and less 'Cornish' as befits my exalted station in life as Blogmeister of Thought Experiments - John Sweeney famously lost it in the course of a conversation with a scientologist and thus entered the Valhalla of YouTube immortals. Sweeney, I assume, is kicking himself because, if he had said nothing and simply let Tommy Davis deliver his sinister rant, this would have done more to discredit his church than any amount of investigative journalism. It's always better to show than tell. Now Kevin Marsh, editor of the BBC College of Journalism (an institution of which I was previously unwaware), emits a curious article about the incident. The first curiosity is his remark that the Sweeney video was disseminated 'faster than Staph A on a lukewarm Petri dish.' (Note, to Mr Marsh's students: ignore your teacher's use of similes to show off general knowledge, especially when it isn't general.) The second curiosity is his argument which is, basically, that the incident was a lesson to journalists about the pervasiveness and speed of new media. This seems to suggest that the YouTube video was the story rather than the conduct of the scientologists. The truth is that Sweeney's report showed that these people behave as if they have an awful lot to hide. That is the story.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:31 am