The furore over Philip Schofield’s interview with the Prime Minister where he handed David Cameron a list of suspected paedophiles he had collected in a couple of minutes came at the beginning of the day.
Yesterday was book-ended by the Guardian’s piece published late last night that the whirlwind of speculation about a senior Tory being at the heart of the North Wales abuse scandal might be a very simple but profound case of mistaken identity.
For what it’s worth I think Philip Schofield’s actions were a crude stunt and give succour and legitimacy to the amateur conspiracy theorists and trolls.
The Guardian’s story will have provoked a lot of soul searching at the BBC (again), especially at Newsnight whose interview just a week ago led directly to the two new inquiries announced by the Home Secretary this week.
If the Guardian is right, Newsnight will appear to have given undue weight and prominence to the information on which it based its decision to run its story last Friday. This editorial decision may well have been driven by a desire to recover some authority lost by its part in the Savile scandal, itself the subject of independent inquiries.
The various inquiries will run their course and hopefully will uncover the truth in their interlinked areas of governance and reporting.
But yesterday might turn out to be a key moment in the evolving relationship between journalism and social media.
Yesterday was the point where a flagship TV programme turned to web rumour to challenge a Prime Minister who uses an app which collates web and media sentiment to inform decisions.
For me the danger is that large sections of the community, who don’t use social media and who need mainstream media to question, investigate and filter information between fact, purported fact and downright lie are increasingly under-represented by media using less and less rigour to inform important editorial decisions.
Critical thinking and cool judgement are diminished and what replaces them is that elusive quality of sentiment, being fed straight to the Prime Minister’s ipad dashboard.
If anybody thinks that this is a good idea, please do let me know.