My search for the word led me down some strange paths, Tamil writers looking for the translation of ‘நிப்பிள்’ – it’s an ‘inventative nipple’ – was he/she a ground breaking plastic surgeon, or a worried Mum with an ‘inverted nipple’? Or his friend, looking for a ‘Gujarati essay about railway station’,The mind boggles. Too much to ponder at 6am and not get on with writing this post.
Then to a 19th century tome on the Justices Act – ‘divers and many subtil inventative and crafty persons‘; and finally to Artisophanes, some 400 years BC who spoke of the fashionable young in the 5th century who coined new adjectives – including inventative. So you can just pipe down pedants, I’m an old fashioned girl – I’m reinventatating Inventative.
Shall I get to the point after such a diversion? I had in mind the news of the ‘Bureau of Investigative Journalism’; launched in 2010 with £2m smackers from the Potter Foundation, an extraordinarily generous gift from the trust run by Elaine Potter (ex-Sunday Times hack) and David Potter (founder of Psion).
It had high minded ideals: there would be ‘no political agenda’. The bureau’s main focus would be on ‘scrutinising government and big business’.
Times change – the man who said that in 2010, Iain Overton, was forced to resign in 2012 after he sent a tweet which created subtle hints that they were about to reveal Lord MacAlpine as a paedophile, as was ‘Angus Stickler for the Truth’, the journalist involved. There was a social media frenzy which resulted in the BBC paying compensation to Lord MacAlpine. It is worth reading the statement issued by the Bureau’s Trustees to see how smartly they washed their hands of any involvement in a poorly researched story about child abuse…they just ‘happened’ to be employing a journalist who had spent years covering the Waterhouse Inquiry for the BBC.
As you do when you want to establish a reputation for ‘scrutinising government and big business’ without ‘a political agenda’.
Now they just ‘happen’ to have employed Meirion Jones as ‘investigations editor’ to bolster their reputation for ‘scrutinising government and big business’ without ‘a political agenda’.
“We recruited Meirion because he was the strongest candidate, we’re absolutely delighted.”
That would be ‘strongest’ out of the field of candidates prepared to work for an organisation with an international reputation for poorly researched child abuse stories?
This would be the same Meirion Jones whose main claim to fame is poorly researched stories about child abuse? It would – what could possibly go wrong? Well, they could find their ‘house’ crashing around their ears, as the BBC did, if they dare to suggest to Meirion that they don’t want to run one of his stories without more tangible evidence…
Worryingly, they are also calling for candidates to come forward as possible senior and junior journalists, a production editor and a ‘head of Bureau labs’ – just as the ex-confabulator in chief of Exaro, Mark Watts, is looking around for a new benefactor to support his lifestyle whilst he weaves his journalistic skills round vulnerable individuals…
Then again, so is Stephen Rice, the producer of the 60 minutes programme that featured Esther Baker in a fantastical tale of ‘Spies Lords and Predators’. Comments made by his employers as he was summarily dismissed following a second disastrous programme included:
“We have an obligation to our staff, our shareholders and our viewers to operate in ways that enhance our reputation as a leading producer of news and current affairs,” he said.
“We also accept a broader obligation to get our judgement calls right regarding what stories we pursue, and how we pursue them.”
Curious how three investigative journalists with a world wide reputation for populating their employer’s organs with literally incredible tales of VIP abuse all appear to be in dire need of a new employer at the same time. Could it be that rumours of a serious metropolitan police investigation into behind-the-scenes deals and double deals, even, gasp, payments, have made some benefactors nervous of having some people on the payroll? Perish the thought.
All of which made me turn my thoughts to who was bankrolling the Bureau of Investigative Journalism? The generous £2m that they started off with six years ago is unlikely to still be plunderable. They made a loss of £65,706 in 2010, a minute profit of £16,109 in 2011, and at the end of 2012, their ‘liabilities exceeded their assets by £11, 609‘. We ain’t buzzing yet folks. 2013 brought another loss of £11, 692, and 2014 – Wowzer! a profit of £8,929.
After which, apart from appointing Geoffrey Robertson QC as director there has been nothing. Now, is that the same Geoffrey Robertson ex-NCCL when it was PIE supporting, now writing coruscating articles on the abrogation of Cliff Richard’s human rights? I do believe it is. Please can I be reincarnated as a fly on the wall of the joint editorial and directors meetings?
So if there is no money in the bank, and no sign of earnings over the past few years, what keeps them afloat? I did wonder about the ‘Google labs’ project.
The Bureau of Investigation says it has secured £500,000 for ‘a three-year project’. Google labs says it will fund Medium & Large projects for ‘a maximum of two years funding‘.
The criteria as to how this money can be spent is very specific:
Funding may not be spent on general and overhead costs such as office rental, furniture and travel expenses, among others.
It can be spent on staff wages – just not sending them anywhere!….it can also be spent on hiring paid interns to do the donkey work. They are called ‘Fellowships‘ at the Bureau. Sounds better. The Bureau’s ‘fellow’ is called Josh Robbins, an MA student from City University. Have to keep an eye on him.
Successful applicants will be given a stipend of up to £6,400 for an eight week attachment to cover expenses and travel.
The Google Initiative is also very keen on everyone either being a registered entity in the EU or EFTA, or holding an EU passport if an individual. No, I don’t know what happens to all this if we vote to come out of the EU on June 23rd…..
Meanwhile the Bureau needs a new managing editor, or editor-in-chief as they sometimes like to style themselves. Christopher Hird, the documentary maker, used to hold this position and steer them on the course of ‘no political agenda’. He has made such politically unaligned gems as ‘Still the Enemy Within‘ on the miner’s strike of ’84 (Meirion could give him some interesting insights on that one, couldn’t you Meirion?); ‘Fire in the Blood‘ which detailed how ‘western pharmaceuticals blocked access to Aids drugs’; and ‘The War you don’t see‘ showing how powerful media moguls (Murdoch anyone?) align with big business to construct wars for their own benefit…no semblance of a political pattern there whatsoever.
Researching Christopher’s films reminded me of looking into Louis Theroux’s output. Louis was the first person to be allowed into the Coalinga State Hospital, a hospital for paedophiles, and to film and interview the inmates. He won an award for his in depth investigation. No wonder he feels so sensitive about claims that he ‘could have stopped Savile’ – no other journalist could have been better prepared to spot a paedophile. Then I found out that Louis had interviewed Max Clifford too. What are the chances of such a well informed journalist failing to spot two alleged paedophiles?
and a 1995 eulogy to Max Clifford…..
and an ‘After Dark’ with Tom O’ Carroll.
And a ‘child protection discussion’ as to whether it is going ‘too far’…..
and topped it all off with an interview with Jerry Sadowitz.
Blimey! Operation Yewtree could have a fruitful time just hunting round the out-takes from that lot. Makes you wonder why Theroux got such a hard time for ‘missing Savile’.
Still time to put in your entry for ‘Managing Editor of the Bureau of Inventative Journalism’. Entries close on June 15th. Perhaps Louis will throw his hat in the ring? Anyone but Watts.
Investigate whether there is any money in the pot to pay you first. Darned if I can see where it is.
With that meander round the rabbit warren of my mind, I leave you for the week-end.