Andrew Montford: Integrity In The Internet Age

  • Date: 04/02/11

Barry Woods has interviewed James Delingpole about his experiences with the BBC and the results are up at WUWT. James’ own take on the affair is at the Spectator.

The big news from the story is the degree to which Delingpole was misled about the programme by the Horizon producer, Emma Jay. This is the extract from the letter she sent to Delingpole:

“The tone of the film is very questioning but with no preconceptions. On the issue of who is to blame no-one will be left unscathed, whether that is science sceptics, the media or most particularly scientists themselves.   Sir Paul is very aware of the culpability of scientists and that will come across in the film. They will not be portrayed as white coated magicians who should be left to work in their ivory towers – their failings will be dealt with in detail.”

Note the words “most particularly the scientists”. It’s funny, but I don’t remember any scientists coming out of the programme so much as ruffled, let alone scathed. In fact, we were presented with the rather unedifying prospect of the President of the Royal Society apparently giving the seal of approval to the practice of hiding uncertainties from policymakers, the great man standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Phil Jones and discussing the wicked sceptics.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Emma Jay grossly misled Delingpole as to the nature of the programme.

It does occur to me though that in the internet age, this kind of thing, while remaining possible, will be hard to sustain in the long run. Anyone who is ever approached by Ms Jay can immediately put her name into Google and discover that she cannot be taken at her word. In the internet age a TV producer or journalist stands or falls on their integrity.

Emma Jay’s looks to be gone, as does that of Rupert Murray, the guy who dissembled his way into Monckton’s confidence. I wonder what these question marks over their trustworthiness will do for their career prospects.

Bishop Hill, 4 February 2011

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