Monthly Archives: February 2008

CITIZEN MEDIA.

Maybe they’re beginning to listen to us?

To my loyal readers – apologies for not getting a post up in the last day or so. Work has a habit of intervening and expanding into my life – so much so that I’ve largely left behind those things that I used to do for my pleasure and leisure.

I’ve been thrashing away at the photocopier today – in between phone calls and e-mails – and, at that, only about a third of the contacts that need attention.

Oh – and writing the occasional missive to my political colleagues on the utter pointlessness – the sheer existential void in which the self – and the self alone – is thrown back upon you – when you spend five hours being assaulted by PowerPoint presentations of shallow platitudes and statements of the bleeding obvious – when you could be working on something useful instead.

So just a brief post tonight.

I don’t feel I need to write a lengthy post – instead I would just refer you to two letters which – shock & amazement – the Jersey Evening Post actually printed – even though they are an assault on the usual Jersey Establishment line – by dealing with the truth – and doing so on an intellectual basis.

Perhaps someone at the JEP has recognised the inevitability of becoming a good newspaper – of real value to this community? I know (hello moles) that the bosses read this blog.

When the truth gets spoken concerning the long-term well-being of this community, you always hear the Jersey Establishment’s knees knocking with fear.

In today’s JEP, there is a letter written by Daniel Wimberley, which addresses very effectively the attempts by the Jersey oligarchy to “manufacture consent” for their “go-for-growth” – essentially, short-term greed – policies.

And this letter follows on from an equally important analysis by Chris Perkins in Thursday’s JEP – in which he explains the utter bunkum – the shameless hucksterism – in trying to pretend that replacement migration is a solution for population-ageing.

Both men’s letters deal with the efforts of the Jersey establishment to con the public into accepting a policy which has short-term financial benefits for landlords, employers of cheap labour and other assorted spivs; a policy which let’s the present generation of politicians off the hook – just as previous decades of politicians have done – and thereby thrusting into the future the problem – the inescapable – the unavoidable – limits to growth. This immutable reality sits like a landslide across a railway – and one day the fake plastic policies and dishonest fantasies of the traditional political establishment are going to end there – in a train wreck of chaos and recriminations.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

Slow Food – The Case for Taste: Arts & Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History, by C Petrini.

Joke of the Post:

A public relations consultant has his telephone pressed to his ear when a man enters his office. He says into the phone, “I’m sorry, but I have a tremendous workload at the moment and I won’t be able to look after your campaign for at least a month.”
He then hung up, turned to the man in his office and asked, “What can I do for you, sir?”

“Nothing,” the man replied, “I’m just here to hook up your phone.”

Anatomy of a Spin: #5 – Continued.

An occasional column devoted to a study of the opinion management industry.

“News Values” – A Fair and Balanced Look at the Jersey Media.

Sorry for getting this post out late – too much work, not enough time.

In this morning’s brief post I suggested we conduct an experiment by examining the opinion management industry in Jersey, this time on a pre-considered basis rather than the customary post-hoc review.

Having already established certain hypotheses and theories concerning the media – or the Opinion Management Industry, to give it its correct description – I thought we should subject our theories to test by experiment. I invited readers to examine the output of Jersey’s news media today, and suggested that we should look at what is reported, what prioritisation was given to different news stories – and in particular, I suggested that we have a think about what was not reported.

A question: do you think the Jersey media has demonstrated a well-evaluated and comprehensive presentation of important news items in its coverage today?

Yeah – you’re there already.

But let us consider the facts – just to double-check our conclusions.

I undertook, an admittedly loose, examination of today’s’ reportage. I haven’t been able to listen to every radio news slot, but I listened to some of the key broadcasts. I watched the local Jersey TV new, and I read the Jersey Evening Post.

Certainly, there were – as we would expect – some legitimate stories of broad public interest in today’s news.

For example, BBC Jersey led its 5.00 pm radio news with a piece on the ‘manufacturing consent’ exercise engaged in by the Jersey Establishment, in which they try to con the Jersey public into agreeing that we need continuing population growth through inward migration “for economic growth” – but in truth to enable the local rentiers and spivs to carry on making vast fortunes from the islands’ accommodation industry through the mechanism of ensuring demand for homes always outstrips supply.

Though – unfortunately – the effect of this piece of reportage was fatally undermined by the presenter introducing it with remarks such as “conspiracy theorists at the ready”. I am a bit out of touch with these things – but last time I looked, the BBC was supposed to be an impartial organisation; not one which begins a package with a denigrating and contemptuous aside towards those who don’t agree with the Establishment Spin – thus prejudicing one side of the debate.

Let us turn now to a story which was partially reported.

The next example is from the Jersey Evening Post – or The Rag, as it is popularly known. It was reported today that the average house price in Jersey is now £435,000 – and that prices had increased to this amount by an annual growth rate of 20%. It was also reported that the cost of, specifically, a three bed-roomed house had grown by around 21% during the last year.

Indeed, the JEP made this story its lead item. So, trebles all round? Great exposure of a genuinely important public interest item?

Err – sorry. Close – but no cigar.

I don’t criticise the particular journalist for this – I know how under-resourced and pressured they are, just as Nick Davies explains in his book, Flat Earth News. But the story was exactly the kind of thing Davies so ruthlessly exposes as commonplace in the British media – it was little more than the regurgitation of headline items ‘copy and pasted’ from a Statistics Department quarterly report.

So – yes, the JEP relayed the statistics to its “product” – or audience, to use the more common description. But obvious and crucial chunks were missed from the reportage of this story; issues of absolutely critical public importance.

For example – is this rate of growth sustainable – and if not, what might the consequences be?

In this kind of story, a little basic mathematics should be used to illustrate what is happening. I know – I can hear the screams now – “who on Earth wants maths in a news story? 90% of people won’t be interested or wouldn’t understand it.”

Well, that would certainly be the average news editor’s response. But unlike such members of the oligarchy, I have always assumed the average member of the public to be a good deal more switched-on than the Establishment ever recognise.

So, by way of providing you with important information you just won’t find presented in the customary Jersey media, let’s do a little calculation.

The statistics report says that the price of a three bed-roomed house went up by about 21% over the last 12 month period. Sure – that’s an alarmingly large sum, so what kind of further examination does it need?

There is a rule-of-thumb that enables the easy calculation of doubling periods of growing systems. Look – even I can understand it – so it must be simple.

Using what is known as the ‘Rule of 70’ we can calculate the doubling period of this house price.

You take 70 – and divide that sum by the percentage growth figure you are dealing with. Thus – we take 70, and divide it by 21.

This gives us the figure of 3.3 reoccurring. Let us call it 3.3 for simplicity.

What does this figure mean?

It means that if you, your family, your banker or your accountant are building financial plans upon this kind of growth – you are betting that the price of a three bed-roomed house will double

Every 3.3 years.

3.3 is the doubling period of a system growing at a rate of 21%.

That 21% growth has yielded a present price for a three bed-roomed house of £470’000, and in 3.3 years – at that rate of growth – it would cost £940,000.

And in another 3.3 years? £1.88 million.

And another 3.3 years? £3.76 million.

You get the picture?

So at these rates of growth, in around 10 years – not long – a three bed-roomed house would cost £3.76 – million.

So this is actually easy stuff that a newspaper could print. And it should be printed – because it’s factual information that equips people to make informed decisions.

But will such decisions be the right ones? Some may look at this calculation and think “yippee, I own a three bed-roomed house, so I’m in the money – big time.” Others might think, “Well, if its growing at that rate, sod the debt burden, let’s sell our every working second to earn the money to pay the mortgage. In 10 years time we’ll be quids-in.”

But others might recognise this growing system – this extraordinary increase in “value” – in purported “wealth” – for what it so clearly is – a bubble. A text-book, manifestly unsustainable, economic bubble. And like all such bubbles – it must burst.

The island of Jersey is gripped by a collective economic delusion – a property-based version of the ‘Tulip Mania’ which gripped Holland in the early part of the 17th century. ‘OK’, you may say, ‘But people are smarter these days – and houses have greater intrinsic value than tulips – houses will always be worth something.’

They may be of some value – but consider the sub-prime collapse in the USA. Suddenly an awful lot of people have a house with, for sure, some ‘value’ – that value just happens to be half of what they signed-up to pay for their particular cardboard McHouse.

So – on the face of it – a well-presented news story. But upon closer examination we discover it’s almost entirely constructed out of press-release ‘product’.

And we discover that crucial aspects of the housing market inflation story are simply not reported – things such as the inescapable physical limits to ‘growth’ and the nature of economic bubbles.

Then there are stories – important news subjects – noticeable for their complete absence. For example, the fact that finally, even hardened capitalist institutions are beginning to face-up to the apocalyptic inevitability of ‘peak oil’, something many of us Cassandra have been warning of for some years.

Then there’s the global financial economy. Don’t you think the fact that the activity which produces at least 85% of Jersey’s wealth is heading towards melt-down just might be newsworthy? The fact that this global “industry” is, essentially, a vast Ponzi scheme – mathematically doomed to crash – perhaps even within in weeks.

Remember, you read it here first.

All immensely important subjects.

‘But’, perhaps you might say, ‘these are esoteric subjects that the average “product” (that’s you and me – the media’s audience) won’t really be interested in. It’s difficult and boring and the media have a commercial imperative to attract maximum audiences.’

Yes – there is a lot of truth in such a statement insofar as the priorities of the media are concerned. What they like is ‘sensation, drama, revelations – the novel and exciting’ – that’s what brings in the punters.

That being the case we have to then remark upon three startling absences from today’s news reportage.

During yesterday’s session of Jersey’s parliament, we debated, and ultimately approved, a proposal that the elected representatives of the people of the island should have access to the minutes of the Corporate Management Board – a kind of council of departmental Chief Executives; the senior civil servants of the island. Naturally, Establishment resistance to this was – bizarrely – implacable. For politicians to have access to the records of these secret proceedings would cause the sky to fall, the Earth to split asunder and the moon careen from its orbit. And I exaggerate only a tiny amount – the speech of the Chief Minister, Frank Walker, wasn’t far short of such pronouncements.

Very occasionally, the States of Jersey gets things right. Notwithstanding the mystifying and desperate opposition to the proposal, it got carried – the Establishment defeated. And these events are rare indeed in the island’s parliament. When the Establishment suffers a defeat of this nature – you can be pretty sure their position wasn’t even on the radar screen of credibility.

And such was this case. A significant number of members rightly recognised that we couldn’t allow the tail to wag the dog – that these very very expensive – and often not very good – collection of senior civil servants should be properly accountable to the public – via their elected representatives.

So, a crushing defeat for the executive – the ‘Government’ – inflicted upon it by the legislature.

Coverage of this story in the Jersey Evening Post?

It’s become a cliché of mine, I know, but – you just couldn’t make this stuff up.

I haven’t been able to locate so much as a single sentence on the subject anywhere in The Rag.

Not one mention.

In how many other jurisdictions, do you imagine, the newspapers would not print a single paragraph about a heavy and dramatic defeat for the Government of the day?

None. Only in Jersey would this happen. Now, there are only two possible explanations for this. That the Jersey Evening Post – uniquely in the entire democratic world – has got the right approach to reportage – and every other newspaper in the democratic world is wrong. Or – the Jersey Evening Post is crap.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.

But to return to the substance of the debate, and the second missing news story.

There is a perception in Jersey that the senior civil service are out of control – unaccountable and invulnerable. An entirely accurate perception, at that. A bloated and monstrous incubus feeding upon islanders’ taxes in ever more insatiable quantities.

I know this to be so from long, first-hand experience – not least in having my dismissal as Health & Social Services Minister engineered by senior civil servants in a desperate attempt to carry on the cover-up of the culture of child abuse in Jersey.

In support of the proposition that the island’s parliamentarians should have access to CMB minutes – obviously an anarcho-commy plot designed to overthrow the state – I made a speech during the debate in which I cited reasons for, and examples of, the civil service being out of control, politicised and acting in a manner which was simply an assault upon functioning democracy.

In the ordinary course of events, a speech from me would not necessarily be news-worthy.

But on this occasion I recounted two recent experiences from my time as Health & Social Services Minister. These two things would have been sensational in any jurisdiction – but of coverage by the Jersey media? – There was none.

Now, you might think ‘why the hell should they report what he said? What was so special about his speech?’

You be the judge of the significance of the two specific issues I raised.

Firstly, I informed the assembly that it was no mere paranoia which leads some of us to state that the civil service is out of control, politicised and acting out of self-interest. I knew it was so – for a stone fact.

I explained to the assembly that I knew my dismissal as H & SS Minister was discussed by un-elected, unaccountable, supposedly non-political civil servants during a Corporate Management Board meeting.

And I explained to the assembly that I knew this for a fact – because no-less an authority than the Chief Constable of the States of Jersey Police Force – following my expression of concern to the Police that I had been obstructed in my lawful duties as Minister – quite properly notified me of the fact that he was present when these discussions took place at the CMB meeting, and that he had taken his own notes.

Now – imagine, say, a Minister in the UK Government; a Minister who had discovered gross deficiencies, failings, cover-ups – and worse – in respect of child protection.

Imagine his dismissal being engineered by the civil servants who he was attempting to hold to account.

Imagine the plot to engineer his dismissal succeeds – an anti-democratic assault on democratic accountability by un-elected, self protecting civil servants.

Imagine the, now former, Minister being properly informed by a Police Chief that he was present and took notes when the civil servants discussed his Ministerial demise.

Imagine the ex-Minister announces these revelations in the House of Commons.

Now – all that was the easy part. This is the hard bit – imagine that, notwithstanding the utterly sensational nature of the events – not – one – single – solitary – part of the UK media reported it.

If you’re an honest and sensible person, you will know immediately that such a scenario is utterly inconceivable.

But what was the response of the Jersey media?

You really don’t need me to tell you – do you?

The second newsworthy feature of my speech, and the third missing news story, was this:

I publicly confessed my guilt to corporate manslaughter.

Not the kind of thing you hear everyday – especially from a politician.

Might just be a bit newsworthy, do ya think? A bit unusual? Worth a couple of paragraphs?

In any other democratic jurisdiction – you bet your sweet life.

A politician – telling the truth – about an absolute tragedy and disaster that happened in his department?

In fairness to the local media, they would have to be quite circumspect as to what and how they reported this matter, as it is sub judice. But it could have been at least referred to, especially given that my remarks are reportable under parliamentary privilege. (Note to BBC Jersey: parliamentary privilege does exist in this jurisdiction.)

For similar legal reasons – I, too, have to be circumspect. I cannot – at this time – explain events, the response of the department – and my constantly evolving state of knowledge as whistle-blowers from within the organisation have told me more and more.

Nor can I say publicly – yet – just what my knowledge is. But when legal circumstances permit – whenever that may be – I will share with you my understanding of a tragedy; an understanding which has been given to me by decent front-line staff.

So, to draw our experimentally proven and evidenced conclusions together. This morning I invited readers to study the Jersey media’s’ out-put of the day. We had an hypotheses; namely that the reportage of the Jersey media would be comically deficient – in a tragic kind of way.

We didn’t know what the scope and scale of reporting would be. We had no insight or knowledge of what decisions news editors would make. In fact – if we did hazard some guesses – based on, say, what the UK media might do – we could have expected at least some detailed reportage of these important subjects.

But, we were so confident of our theory being demonstrated that we set the experiment in motion this morning. We actually gave the Jersey media every opportunity; our theory met the Falsifiability test – in best Carl Popper manner.

And the result?

QED.

The Jersey media sank like a stone – thrown into a septic tank – right down to the very bottom. The festering lower-depths.

The tragedy for this community – for what Jersey was – for what Jersey should be – is that the outcome of our experiment was so absolutely – and sadly – predictable.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

When the Press Fails – Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina: Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion, by WL Bennett.

Joke of the Post:

A news editor should have a pimp for a brother – so he’d have someone to look up to.

ANATOMY OF A SPIN: # 5

An occasional column devoted to a study of the opinion management industry.

This morning a slight departure from the usual post-hoc examination of a spin which I undertake in these columns.

Today – in real time – you, my readers, can be a part of an experiment.

If you’re resident in Jersey, or you are able to follow the “news” services of the island on the web, when you have spare moments, monitor today’s media output.

Read the Jersey Evening Post, listen to BBC Radio Jersey, watch their local TV news broadcasts, listen to the local commercial radio station, FM103, and watch the Channel Television news.

What you are looking for are the range of news stories, the importance of each item, the prioritisation given to them by the Jersey media; reflect upon whether each of the media are exhibiting a prioritisation which matches what you would consider to be the importance to the community of each news item.

And – in particular – have a think about news items which don’t feature at all – the glaring void of reportage of important issues.

Later today, hopefully before 7.00 pm, I will post my thoughts on today’s experiment.

Watch this space.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics, by William Bonner and Lila Rajiva.

Joke of the Post:

Q: Do you know the difference between God and a news editor?

A: God doesn’t think He’s a news editor.

ANATOMY OF A SPIN: #4:

POST-SCRIPT.

Just in case there was any confusion concerning the Joke of the Post which accompanied my last post, ‘Anatomy of a Spin #4’, I wish to make it perfectly clear that this joke did not refer to any judge in Jersey.

This is pretty obvious when you think about it.

There would never be a trial in Jersey for ‘political corruption’.

Indeed – as far as I am aware from the last few decades, there never has been a trial for ‘political corruption’ in Jersey

This notwithstanding the fact that to my certain knowledge – and that of others – there are at least one or two occasions when Jersey politicians should have been ‘cuffed & stuffed’.

No – we will have to wait upon the, admittedly remote, possibility of anti-establishment politicians getting into positions of power before we see such a spectacle.

Only then – we could be sure – would the Jersey prosecutory and judicial authorities swing into full battle mode – examining every action with microscopic intensity – ready to savage non-establishment politicians for heinous offences – you know – stuff like taking a packet of office biscuits out of the tea room.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament, by Ed Vulliamy and David Leigh.

Joke of the Post:

A Jersey politician is rushing across the street to get to the bank before it closes. Tragically, they are hit by a monstrous SUV and killed outright.

Their soul slowly coalesces and drifts up above the streets of St. Helier – obviously taking a little longer than would be the case for a ‘civilian’ – before arriving at the pearly gates.

There, in his majesty, stands St. Peter, ‘Welcome to Heaven’, he says. ‘Now – we’re a little non-plused as to what to do with you. It’s so rare for us to find a politician seeking admission to the Kingdom of Our Lord.

‘Don’t worry’, says the politician, ‘I’m used to having no idea what I am supposed to be doing, making things up as I go along, and pretending to understand what is going on. I’ll fit right in.’

‘Well’ – says St. Peter ‘yes, I can see that you have a natural talent for faking it. But in Heaven, we need a little more rigour. So, before we admit you, we need to test which environment most suits you – Heaven or Hell; we’d like to hear your assessment.’

‘So – we will give you a day in Heaven and a day in Hell. You could think of it as getting chosen to represent Jersey at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association AGM. You could end up with taxpayers flying you – business class – to Sri Lanka for a week or two – or flying Aurigny to Guernsey on a wet November weekend. Are you starting to get the picture now?’

‘Yes’, says the politician. So St. Peter takes him to a dark, deep shaft – and down he drifts – slowly filing with trepidation at the prospect of entering Hell. The doors open – and he finds himself on a beautiful coastal golf course, marvellous greens, and, at the end of the course, an impressive club-house with not an irritating prole in sight. In fact, the only people around are the politician’s friends and colleagues from the world of politics – fellow politicians, senior civil servants, spin-doctors and news editors. They all look enthusiastic, confident and attentive. They play a happy and relaxing game of golf, and when finished, they dine on fresh Jersey lobster and caviar – all washed down with the best Champaign. Even Satan – who is the resident professional – appears to be a reasonable guy who likes to exchange anecdotes and have a good laugh.

Time flies buy, and soon St. Peter summons the soul of the Jersey politician up to Heaven. ‘Now’ he says, after your 24 hours in Hell – you can experience 24 hours in Heaven.’

So the politician spends a day possessed by the most unusual feelings of spiritual purity, cleanliness and wisdom as he drifts across the clouds of Heaven, playing his harp.

Suddenly, the politician is back at the gates – St. Peter standing before him. ‘You have seen Heaven and Hell – we wouldn’t usually do this, but because you are a politician – and used to making decisions which can either inflict misery or deliver happiness to people – we will allow you to choose where you will spend eternity.’

The politician doesn’t need long to think. ‘You know, Heaven is indeed, a marvellous place, but – you know – Hell just looked a bit more pleasurable – and it certainly appeared to have more property development opportunities. So – I’ll take Hell.’

St. Peter nods and gives a knowing smile. Back down a long shaft of darkness goes the politician – but this time, when the gates of hell open – all that can be seen is a blasted and barren waste-land of reclamation sites filled with carcinogenic toxic ash, decaying concrete ruins and slums. Here, all his friends – all the politicians, editors, spin-doctors and senior civil servants are shuffling around picking up rubbish, being forced to look at the Waterfront Hotel and having to pay Goods & Services Tax on each breath of the rancid, cadmium and dioxin-laden air they breathe.

The shocked politician now sees his eternal doom. And across the wretched toxic waste-dump comes Satan.

‘What’s happened,’ says the politician, ‘this was not what I voted for. Yesterday this was a beautiful golf course, with a wonderful restaurant – and all my friends from the world of politics seemed happy and relaxed?

Satan looks at the politician and says ‘Yes – but yesterday we were just campaigning – today – you’ve voted for us.’

ANATOMY OF A SPIN: #4

An occasional column devoted to a study of the Opinion Management Industry.

‘The Law in its Majestic Equality’.

Today, my old friends at the Jersey Evening Post have delivered another brilliant piece. Not in the sense of it being a great news story – rather, in the sense that it provides such a fantastic example of the opinion management industry at work; such a nakedly unembarrassed display of the Jersey Oligarchy in action.

I was thinking of a subject for another ‘Anatomy of a Spin’ article – and low! – So it appeared – as the lead item on the front page of this Saturday’s Jersey Evening Post.

A little background information.

In addition to the full-time professional police force, Jersey has a system of traditional voluntary policing, called the Honorary Police. Each of the island’s 12 parishes has its own small police force.

To join one of these 12 police forces, you need to seek election to the post, and if successful, get sworn-in by the island’s Royal Court.

On the 18 December 2007, a gentleman was elected to the post of ‘Centenier’, a senior rank in Jersey’s Honorary Police, – yet he was only sworn-in to the office yesterday. And then – only after another, frankly embarrassing, display of the politicisation of the Court systems in Jersey.

The man in question, Mr Steve Pallett, was once ‘convicted’ of ‘stealing’ – but the money was probably lost through his management inexperience – the sum of £80.00 – when he was 17 – running a school tuck-shop –

30 years ago.

So here is a man who supposedly ‘committed’ a school-boy offence – 30 years ago – and who all now accept has led a blameless and industrious life ever since, including undertaking a range of community work.

Yet in his particular case, the island’s Solicitor General and the Court felt an overwhelming need to excavate this matter from his childhood – 30 years ago – and examine in public whether he should be sworn-in – because – obviously – this childhood misdemeanour clearly meant Mr Pallett may be a cross between Al Capone and Robert Maxwell.

But – you may ask – in all seriousness, why should the island’s judicial authorities behave in this manifestly excessive and unreasonable manner?

It’s a mystery – isn’t it?

Sadly – no.

I can answer the question for you very easily and simply.

Mr. Pallett is an anti-establishment political candidate – and – ‘call out MI5 and the SAS’ – a member of a political party at that – party politics being hated by the Jersey Oligarchy – unless, of course, it’s their own covert de facto Conservative party.

Suddenly all makes sense now – doesn’t it?

Whether they were going to succeed in preventing him from being sworn-in was an entirely secondary consideration – the objective of the exercise was to make certain that his school boy misdemeanour was trawled-up – from 30 years ago – and given maximum possible public exposure.

This to inflict as much damage as possible on his chances of getting elected to a political office in the future.

The house-journal of the island’s oligarchy – the Jersey Evening Post – duly played its expected and customary role – by plastering the story across a huge, front page, lead article – and with a big colour photograph of Mr. Pallett, for good measure – just to make sure everyone knows what this potential successor to the Kray twins looks like.

I have only ever met Mr. Pallett on, maybe, three occasions? Something like that. I don’t know him particularly. And neither am I a supporter of the political party of which he is a member, the Jersey Democratic Alliance, or JDA.

I carry no brief for him or the JDA. Indeed, should you care to examine the archives of the ‘Is This Jersey?’ web site – you will find various clashes between me and the JDA on record.

But so crass – so embarrassing – so comical, when you think about it – is the sight of the entrenched Jersey power clique wheeling into action to stomp upon another paranoiacly imagined “threat” to the “stability” of the island – that it just has to be remarked upon.

The people of this community need to become more and more aware of the nature of power in Jersey – and see these type of machinations for what they are.

The exercise carried out by the Jersey oligarchy against Mr. Pallett was straightforward ‘opinion management’. It was an ad homonym attack against a man – purely because the politics he represents are a challenge to the monopoly of power in Jersey.

To those who may have considered my criticisms of the Jersey Establishment to be too harsh, I say – just reflect on this episode.

For on display here we see an abusive alignment of the Court, the media and the political establishment – working together in a way that could have been taken straight from Stalinist Russia.

‘But surely’, you say, ‘the Courts are beyond reproach? Aren’t they just doing their right and proper job?’

‘After all – this man could be some kind of immense threat to society – like a hideous amalgam of the Godfather, Hannibal Lector and Tony Soprano?’

Well – yes – in a sane world, one might expect the Courts to be uniformly rigorous in scrutinising such matters and coming to objective decisions.

Now – let me ask you question.

Just how effective, objective, rigorous, impartial and measured has been, do you think, the out-put of the Jersey Court system?

Yeah – you’re learning fast.

You’re a great bunch of readers; the more attentive of you will have got the picture by now. You won’t even need these few examples to chew on.

This is the same Court system – the same process for swearing-in Honorary Police Officers – that swore-in a convicted paedophile – a disgusting little scum-bag by the name of Roger Holland – who then went onto commit further despicable crimes against children.

Now – what do you think is a more serious consideration – which do you consider to merit such ruthless scrutiny? A community minded man – who has led a blameless life for 30 years following a school boy misdemeanour? Or a clearly dangerous convicted paedophile like Holland?

Yes – got it in one.

And the Court, which sat on Friday to consider Mr Pallett’s swearing-in, was led by the deputy head of the island’s judiciary – Deputy Bailiff Michael Birt.

This being the self-same Michael Birt who – when Attorney General – failed to prosecute a number of people who should clearly have been in the dock – in some cases for committing abuse themselves – in other cases failing to protect children who were being abused – and, indeed, covering up such abuse.

So Mr. Birt presided over a Court on Friday – delivering stentorian condemnations of a school boy misdemeanour – of 30 years ago – whilst, with apparent lack of embarrassment, not recollecting the multifarious gross failings and derelictions of Jersey’s Courts on other occasions.

It, seemingly, not occurring to him and his fellow oligarchs that their singling out of Mr Pallett – for a school boy misdemeanour of 30 years ago – might just – oh, you know – look a bit fishy – in comparison to the swearing in of the convicted paedophile Roger Holland.

It really is true what they say, you know – these people really do think the average member of the public is bloody stupid.

As I said – I have only met Mr. Pallett on a few occasions, and could not claim to know him particularly. And, to repeat the point, I’m not a supporter of the political party of which he is a member.

But, frankly – if I lived in his parish and voted there – I would now vote for Mr. Pallett – if for no other reason than to give the Jersey oligarchy a well-deserved smack in the teeth.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

The Politics of the Judiciary, by J.A.G. Griffith

Joke of the Post:

At the height of a political corruption trial, the prosecuting Advocate attacked a witness. “Isn’t it true,” he bellowed, “that you accepted five thousand pounds to compromise this case?”

The witness stared out the window as though he hadn’t heard the question.

“Isn’t it true that you accepted five thousand pounds to compromise this case?” the lawyer repeated.

The witness still didn’t respond.

Finally, the judge looked over and said, “Will the witness please answer the question.”

“Oh,” the startled witness said, “I thought he was talking to you.”

SELECTING A MID-LIFE CRISES.

Golf?

I’ll take death, thanks.

Politics is a very unhealthy occupation. And not just because it numbs your brain and imperils your mortal soul.

Unless you’ve done it – you just wouldn’t believe the hours upon hours upon hours involved in sitting at a desk. And I don’t mean sitting in the States chamber – trying to fight off the ambient tranquilising effects by running Rage Against The Machine lyrics through you mind. I mean when you’re actually doing real work.

Sat at a desk in front of a computer screen – trying to cope with the avalanche of constituent phone calls; repeatedly playing back answer phone messages in an effort to comprehend the mumbled and crackly number left by the caller. Phoning people back to listen to their concerns and then make an effort to assist them – which commonly means spending a minimum of 2 to 3 hours phoning departments, e-mailing or writing letters. Frequently, a single challenging constituent case can take days of work – sometimes attempts to help them can go on for months.

The nature of each case can differ – sometimes the issues are easily addressed – sometimes the complexity of the situation involves spending an hour – even an hour-and-a-half on the phone to a single constituent in the evening when they’re home from work. And when you’ve received 15 messages from different people that day – well, that’s an awful lot of work – too much, in truth. For as much as I try, I just don’t succeed in finding the hours to get back to everyone. As it is, I could easily spend each evening on the phone to constituents from 6.30 until 9.30 – 7 days-a-week – but if I were to attempt such a thing, I don’t think my sanity or my relationship would survive.

Then – of course – there are the e-mails. In truth, e-mailing is a far easier and more effective way of interacting with members of the public. The concerns they have are easily expressed onto the relevant departments. But the sheer ease of e-mailing means another huge quantity of work.

Then there are one’s own political initiatives; researching subjects, preparing amendments, writing substantive propositions and accompanying reports, devising questions to ask. And, of course the sheer vast amount of reading.

On average, I could spend about 5 hours-a-day merely reading the spring-tide of documents, reports, propositions, draft laws, annual accounts, letters, various journals, web sites, books and e-mails which all come into my sphere of awareness.

There has, however, been one notable and welcome reduction in demands upon my time. My mobile phone no longer rings with calls from journalists. Since beginning this blog, I have often written critically of the Jersey media – and for a good reason. The media is a key and central component in the apparatus of power – yet it’s never scrutinised or challenged. But the island’s media has taken umbrage at my attempt to fill that glaring vacancy in the political discourse of this community.

So now, happily, I no longer get calls from hacks trying to induce me into using sensational words like “corruption” in order to pad out The Rag in best Phil Space tradition. (Hey Ben, I still don’t seem to have had an answer to those two e-mails yet.)

But still – after 18 years at this sedentary occupation – I’m over-weight, unfit and generally unhealthy. Not a good place to be at the age of 42.

So – clearly what I need is a “Mid-Life Crises”. One of those would surely sort me out. The difficulty is – there are just so many possible manifestations it’s really difficult to choose one. Hey – maybe I’ll choose several?

Take up learning to play electric guitar? Boxing, perhaps? Clubbing in Ibiza? Leave my partner? Start attempting to strike up “relationships” with women 20 years younger than me?

Hmm…none of these really appeal. I’m in a happy relationship – and even if I wasn’t, the prospect of trying to be hip – whilst holding in the gut and rushing to the gents every 20 minutes to stick the comb-over back in place just doesn’t really attract. Rock guitar? Purleeeeease! You know which madness comes after that – the psychotic delusion that leather trousers might look good – when the only man in history who ever succeed in making this look work was Jim Morrison.

Boxing, I admit, has a certain appeal – but I would have to have the right opponent in the other corner to get sufficiently motivated. Given time and, say, certain States members to take on, I would dedicate my self to training like Nigel Benn did for his fight against Gerald McClellan. But, I’ve never boxed before – and they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

So that leaves me with those activities of my sometimes misspent youth – things I’m vaguely familiar with. One of these certainly ticks all the boxes and seems a popular choice for The Mid-Life Crises. The casualty wards are full of men who once rode a Yamaha LC 350 20-odd years ago – and suddenly thought it seemed a really good idea to go and buy an 180 horsepower Honda FireBlade – the kind of thing that does 0 – 60 in about 3 seconds – 80 miles-an-hour – in first gear – and delivers 2 mile wheelies.

But when the anaesthetic wears off – and you vaguely start to wonder were your left leg and half your face went – I’m sure you would begin to reassess the wisdom of your choice. And I know what it feels like to crash motorbikes. I owned several when I was a kid – and I carry the scars and limps to this day. A 100 miles-an-hour through the tunnel anybody? But – there is no other feeling quite like sliding down the road head first – on your back – at 80 miles an hour – whilst your machine barrel-roles down the road ahead of you in a maelstrom of sparks, smashed lights and fragmenting fibreglass.

So that’s motorcycling out of the frame.

So this leaves climbing. Oh dear. Just the thought of it makes my deficient muscles quiver – and induces a vision of me thinking ‘what the hell am I doing here’ – as I plunge towards that “terminal crater” – climbing vernacular for a fatal ground-fall.

But climbing isn’t an entirely negative possibility for the Mid-Life Crises. For example, I was never much good at rock climbing; didn’t have the strength and agility to really tweak the nose of Old Father Time and tell him it was time he replaced his scythe with a strimmer. I left that kind of thing to the guy I belayed for, my climbing partner, Paul Mahrer – who frequently got so close to Death, he could have given him a hug and danced with him like it was a Greek wedding.

No, I pottered around on the lower-grade, easier routes which adorn Jersey’s sea-cliffs, admittedly getting right at the edge of my not-very-great ability on some occasions. Even doing the odd first ascent of new routes.

I was happy with this activity – keeping within my comfort zone – and just really enjoying the beautiful environment of the island’s sea-cliffs. I never intended to stop doing it – but, sadly, politics got in the way. And all the unhealthy desk-jockeying which comes with it.

So rock climbing looks a more and more attractive manifestation of the Mid-Life Crises; I used to vaguely know what I was doing; I never took huge risks and I wouldn’t over-step my limited abilities. I could be out there scrambling around quite happily – getting fit – losing weight – getting crapped on by the herring gulls and spewed on by the fulmars. Yes – it’s all coming back to me now.

But then I remember – when I was young, I regarded rock climbing as a mere component of mountaineering. I used to look forward to teetering on crampon points a hundred feet up a cliff on a Scottish mountain in February – 60 mile-an-hour winds – total white-out – minus 12 and a windslab avalanche zone to look forward to crossing on the way back down.

And then I remember – this was just training for the Alps: 2.00 AM starts with head torches – freezing winds – rock-fall – avalanches – mis-navigations leading you to climb a winter-only TD grade route, when you were aiming for the gentle amble up the grade F – running out of head torch batteries – running out of water – falling through the ice into crevasses – twice – after 24 hours of constant effort – vowing to yourself that ‘if you only survive this one you’ll never set foot on another bloody mountain again’.

And then after 2 big meals and 10 beers and 2 bottles of wine back down in Zermatt it’s “That was great – what one shall we try next?”

Ah……mountains. The beauty, the grandeur, the pure sensation, watching the sun-rise from the summit – boiling up in red, peach and crimson through the sea of cloud which fills the valleys below you – peaks upon peaks – as far as your eyes can see.

There is something addictive about mountains; no matter how hard the experiences – you just need to keep on going back. Joe Simpson calls it “the beckoning silence” – and he’s so right.

For some people, mountains are the ultimate seductress – unfortunately, one with a hundred different ways of killing you.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

The Beckoning Silence, by Joe Simpson.

Joke of the Post:

A party of economists was climbing in the Alps. After several hours they became hopelessly lost. One of them studied the map for some time, turning it up and down, sighting on distant landmarks, consulting his compass, looking at the sun, checking the GPS again. Finally he said, ‘ OK see that big mountain over there?’

‘Yes’, answered the others eagerly.

‘Well, according to the map, we’re standing on it.

The Best Laid Plans.

Another day ruined – by BBC Jersey.

Writing this blog is a little light relief I indulge in between my political work. I usually enjoy producing the posts – and enjoy thinking about the great variety of subjects one could possibly write about.

I know – you can have too much ‘Politics’. I think I reached that point about 10 years ago. It is said that politics is an extremely low occupation – right down there with estate agents, journalists and lawyers. But – look on the bright-side – I could be a politician and an estate agent.

Just imagine – if you were an estate agent, a politician, a lawyer and a journalist – all at the same time – you could sprout horns and cloven hooves and start wondering around with a flaming pitchfork.

I have to turn away from politics from time-to-time in order to cleanse myself of the accreted debris of the occupation; the sense of futility; the existential bleakness; the utter tedium of debates; the ignorance; the lies; the stupidity.

So it was with pleasure I was looking forward to writing a post today that wasn’t focused upon ‘Politics’. I hadn’t quite chosen a subject, but a few ideas were milling around as possible topics: our cats, poetry, trees, literature, photography, my favourite music maybe? Or mountaineering? Travelling in India and riding on an elephant? Woodworking? The merits and de-merits of kiln-dried timber versus naturally seasoned timber? (OK – I know this last one is beginning to take us into nerd territory) – but – these and any number of other random disquisitions could have spilled across the electronic page.

So what went wrong?

Amongst my e-mails this morning was one from a news editor at BBC Jersey – objecting to my condemnation of the BBC in Jersey in yesterday’s post, “The Medium is the Massage Part 2.”

Reading the e-mail – a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible – I was filed with that weary recognition of yet another occasion on which I was going to have to steel myself for battle – pick up the knuckle-dusters and punch away at a Jersey ‘ivory-towered media’ with the usually futility. For on display in the e-mail was a startling absence of understanding of what constitutes important and relevant news; an ignorance of the constitutionally defined purposes of the BBC; a number of assertions which are simply factually wrong and – and this is the angering part – a complete insensitivity for, and disregard of, the victims of the Jersey child abuse scandals.

I said in my posts of yesterday I would, at some point, devote one to each of the Jersey media. BBC Jersey is now top of that list.

Sometime in the next day or two I will take a close look at BBC Jersey.

But, perhaps tomorrow, I will be able to resume my musings upon something altogether less contaminating and depressing. But right now – I feel a strong urge to go and listen to some Joy Division.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs, Edited by John Pilger.

Joke of the Post:

A BBC Jersey reporter rushes to the scene of a house fire. Fortunately no people were in the building as it was gutted by the flames. A number of eye-witnesses stand around watching the Fire brigade at work. The reporter asks them: ‘What did you see?’

One witness says ‘Luckily, there were no people in the building at the time, but a dog was trapped. A man broke the door down and rescued it from amongst the flames’

‘What great story’, says the journalist: ‘the news piece will be “Man Rescues Animal From House Fire.’

Another witness listening to the conversation says ‘And did you know, it was a States member who rescued the dog?’

‘Even more interesting!’ says the reporter ‘the story can be ‘Brave Politician Risks His Life To Save Dog From Blaze.’

A third witness says: ‘Yeah, and it was that Stuart Syvret who did it.’

‘Right’ says the BBC Jersey reporter, ‘that will be ‘Syvret Vandalises House Door And Steals Beloved Family Pet’.

“The Medium is the Massage!” Part 2.

How I oh-so wish this post was just about the commercial media.

In my first post today, I described some of the background detail of the political economy in which the Jersey media operates.

So, in this, Part 2 of today’s post, I will describe some of the theory that underpins critiques of the media.

Considered on a global basis, we might place different types of media-control into three categories. And note: I’m referring to control-models – not the means of transmission of ‘information’, such as print, TV, Radio etc.

These categories of control might be described as –

1: Privately owned commercial media working in democratic societies.

2: Publicly ‘owned’ or state-sponsored media working in democratic societies; the BBC, for example.

3: State controlled media of the kind run by dictatorships and regimes.

For the purposes of this post, we can concentrate on 1 and 2 of the above categories, because we know that state-controlled media of the kind used by nutty dictators will produce largely ‘engineered’ fictions, designed to prop-up the regime. I don’t think there is much dispute over that point.

My main focus will be upon category 1, for a good reason. Why? Privately owned commercial media is, by a huge margin, the dominant category of media throughout the democratic world. Institutions such as the BBC are comparatively rare.

So, considering commercial media – the vast bulk of media in the free world – let us ask ourselves a question:

What is the purpose of such media?

The answer to this question is key in gaining an understanding of how the media works.

The purpose of such media is to make a profit for its owners.

So how do commercial media make their profits?

Or ask a more pertinent question.

What is the “product” of commercial media?

What “good” is it selling in the marketplace?

The “product” – the “goods” for sale – touted by the media – are you and me.

The “product” of commercial media is its audience.

And to succeed, commercial media has to sell its “product” – the audience – people like you and me – to its market.

The market it is selling to are advertisers, and potential advertisers.

So to succeed, commercial media needs a big fat “product” – maximum readers, maximum listeners, or maximum TV viewers. High ratings. The more people are consuming your particular media – the greater value your “product” has – the higher price you can charge advertisers.

But simple quantity of audience numbers just isn’t enough. The “product” has to meet certain other requirements – the audience has to fulfil certain “qualities” as well as simple quantity ratings.

We can conduct an easy experiment ourselves to see the sub-divisions of the potential audience. Consider – when watching commercial television, notice how the nature of both the products advertised, and the adverts themselves change – from program type to program type.

Romance – or costume-drama? What are the products advertised. Make-up? Clothes? Glossy women’s magazines?

SAS drama – or boxing match? What are the products on offer? Razors? Sports cars? Beer?

Make your own observations. And this is just to scratch the surface of the opinion management industry.

Volumes upon volumes have been written about how to capture, corral and control audiences. There is simply too much literature on the subject for me to go into detail here; though, as I suggested in an earlier blog, I will post a recommended reading list sometime soon.

Just ask yourself – just how many more costume-drama TV adaptations of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ does the world need? Why, do you think, TV companies want a new version – at what seems to be about every two years?

This kind of program is the framework upon which the TV companies can display a category of their product. A large female audience – probably a substantial percentage of which will be middle-class – and thus have money to spend. ‘Excellent!’ Just what the advertisers – the pay-masters want.

‘That Jane Austin? She really gives good “product”’

In 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman published a very famous book – “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

In the book they posit a tool – a frame-work – which can be used to understand the mass media; what they describe as ‘the propaganda model’, but other writers have since described as ‘the five-filter media-model’. The ideas in the book have been adapted, somewhat, but, essentially; it remains an extremely robust piece of social analyses.

The application of this analytical methodology reveals the power, the wealth, the motivations of, and influences of the mass media. It describes how ownership and wealth are able to “filter” out news that does not serve the interests of the rich & powerful.

So what, then, are these ‘five-filters’?

The model proposes that there are five basic mechanisms which largely determine what we – the audience – the “product” – are fed. And how we are marketed to the media’s pay-masters.

1: The size, market power and ownership of the media, and the profit motive which drives it.

2: The need to appease and appeal to advertisers, who are the major source of income for much of the mass media.

3: Sourcing. Or where do the ‘stories’ come from? Who drives the news agenda? This is the immense power to ‘originate’ ‘news’, to package and market it to news-outlets. The ability of resource-rich corporations and governments to employ spin-doctors and copy-writers; the ability to spend vast sums on lobbying – to, effectively, write the ‘stories’ in the form of pre-formed press-releases which can be conveniently copy & pasted by overburdened and under-resourced ‘churnalists’.

4: ‘Flak’ – or a constant attritional stream of criticism, complaints and aggravated legal harassments engaged in to “discipline” the media. The ability to withhold stories, information, and interviews from any journalist that pitches a story in a way which does not suit the purposes of wealth & power.

5: ‘Monsters’. Back when Chomsky & Herman were writing Manufacturing Consent, the big bad monster used to frighten the population into supporting governments, the state and the military-industrial complex was communism. But communism died away, so new ‘monsters’ were needed. Things were looking pretty quite in the 1990s – remember Francis Fukuyama, and his book “The End of History”? But, as history shows us – emperors, kings, dictators, governments – all have needed “enemies” – a common “threat” that would unite their populations behind them. Today it’s Islamic terrorists – tomorrow it will be something else. Nothing quite whips the media and the population into line like “patriotism”.

So this is the hidden set of forces – of conditions – which determine how, what, why, when, where and who audiences – the “product” – are fed. This is how the opinion management industry operates.

But does the five-filter model scale down to little old Jersey? Do wealth, power, pressure, ownership, control and self-interest – all of these kinds of considerations – shape how we in Jersey – the audience – the “product” of the local media – are moulded and manipulated?

Come on. Pay attention!

How long have you been reading this blog? You know the answer right now.

The five-filter media-model could have been devised solely on the basis of a study of the Jersey media.

The narrow ownership by an entrenched oligarchy? The absence of meaningful competition? A society in which materialism and greed have been ruthlessly encouraged? A commercial media which has both the need and ability to foster and maintain a paradigm which suits the advertising market? A community awash with cash? Rich and powerful forces – ready and able to get tough – should any local media step out of line?

Yep – it’s all there, isn’t it?

In the future, I will produce some posts which will take an exclusive look at each of the local Jersey media. For now, I will conclude with a few observations.

Now – brace yourselves – I’m going to say something nice about the Jersey Evening Post – err – OK – maybe ‘nice’ isn’t, perhaps, quite the right word, but hey – it’s a start, right?

The JEP is, at least, a nakedly commercial media. It ticks every box in the Rapacious and Ruthless Rag test. It’s a newspaper – thus not bound by any legal or constitutional need to be “balanced”. It has to feed on profit all-round – for itself and for its market. It has to maintain a world-view – a paradigm – that meets and matches the needs of its advertisers. It has to keep us – its “product” – in-line and receptive to the wares of its paymasters.

So – as disgusting and disgraceful as the historic conduct of the JEP has been – as biased – as ethically bankrupt – as misleading – as dissembling – as irresponsible and as damaging to this community as it has been throughout its history (look, I said it was a start, OK?) its actions are, at least, explicable.

No worse than one might expect, really.

But – the BBC in Jersey?

Beloved “aunty” beeb?

Bound by law – as a broadcast media – to be balanced?

Guided by the historic BBC Charter?

Compulsorily paid for via the ‘licence fee’?

No requirement to pander to the market dictates of advertisers?

Not owned by the local oligarchy?

Oh – BBC Jersey! Where did it all go so wrong?

How did you lose your way so badly?

Will “aunty” ever reach down here – and set you back on track?

I will recount the multiple – and truly startling – inadequacies and failings of BBC Jersey in detail in a later post.

Here is just one – to be going on with.

A couple of months ago, a team from the BBC in the UK came to Jersey and made an extremely important short documentary piece for BBC Television; a documentary of colossal ‘public-interest’ importance.

It dealt with the unfolding and disgusting scandal of child abuse in Jersey; on this particular occasion it examined institutionalised abuse actually carried out by the States of Jersey – the island’s government. It included interviews with child-victims, and other witnesses.

Yet – even though this extremely professional program was made by the BBC itself – even though it was broadcast by the BBC regionally – the local BBC Jersey crew actively and deliberately did all it possibly could to minimise publicity for the program. It scarcely trailed the up-coming broadcast, didn’t mention it regularly on radio news broadcasts – and, even after the film had been broadcast on a Sunday lunch-time – BBC Jersey managed to go throughout its entire two hour morning radio news program on the Monday – without so much as mentioning the film – once.

A rock-solid piece of documentary work which convincingly demonstrated the Jersey government to have been engaging in the institutionalised abuse of already vulnerable and messed-up children. For years.

And BBC Jersey? Well, I recorded the Monday morning radio broadcast – and a number of the victims I know were also listening.

For the first time, the interviewed victims – and others with similar experiences – were listened to and given a voice – by a BBC team from the UK.

And BBC Jersey mentioned it not once on the Monday’s news – instead – quite deliberately – preferring to use up chunks of air-time with inconsequential banter, trivia, and banality.

That the Jersey Evening Post might behave in this way – well, for all the reasons I described above – we couldn’t be really surprised.

But when a local BBC team has so clearly “gone native”; when the BBC in Jersey behaves in this way – one is tempted to look to the horizon to see if the four horsemen are approaching.

But no – it’s just another load of invitations to the Jersey cocktail party circuit that I see coming over the hill.

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

The Pin Down Report, by Allan Levy QC and Barbra Kahan.

Joke of the Post:

Q: How many citizen reporters does it take to discover and report on a cover-up?

A: one.

OK, that’s not a joke – it’s a tragedy.

The Truth Within Black Humour.

An Interim Post: a spoof product survey I stumbled upon.

This is a reproduction of a piece of satire I found on the net. The tragedy of it is that many of the questions in the “survey” could well be taken from reality.

Stuart Syvret.

Customer survey.

Thank you for purchasing a McDonnell Douglas military aircraft. In order to protect your new investment, please take a few moments to fill out the warranty registration card below. Answering the survey questions is not required, but the information will help us to develop new products that best meet your needs and desires.

1. Contact details.

[_] Mr.
[_] Mrs.
[_] Ms.
[_] Miss
[_] Lt.
[_] Gen.
[_] Comrade
[_] Classified
[_] Other

First Name: ……………………………………………..
Initial: ……..
Last Name: ………………………………………………
Password: ………………………… (max. 8 char)
Code Name: ………………………………………………
Latitude-Longitude-Altitude: ……….. ………..

2. Which model aircraft did you purchase?

[_] F-14 Tomcat
[_] F-15 Eagle
[_] F-16 Falcon
[_] F-117A Stealth
[_] Classified.

3. Date of purchase (Year/Month/Day):

19……. /……. /……

4. Serial Number:

………………………………………..

5. Please indicate where this product was purchased:
[_] Received as gift / aid package
[_] Catalogue / showroom
[_] Independent arms broker
[_] Mail order
[_] Discount store
[_] Government surplus
[_] Classified

6. Please indicate how you became aware of the McDonnell Douglas you have just purchased:

[_] Heard loud noise, looked up
[_] Store display
[_] Espionage
[_] Recommended by friend / relative / ally
[_] Political lobbying by manufacturer
[_] Was attacked by one.

7. Please indicate the three (3) factors that most influenced your decision to purchase this McDonnell Douglas product:

[_] Style / appearance
[_] Speed / manoeuvrability
[_] Price / value
[_] Comfort / convenience
[_] Kickback / bribe
[_] Recommended by salesperson
[_] McDonnell Douglas reputation
[_] Advanced Weapons Systems
[_] Backroom politics
[_] Negative experience opposing one in combat.

8. Please indicate the location(s) where this product will be used:

[_] North America
[_] Iraq
[_] Iraq
[_] Aircraft carrier
[_] Iraq
[_] Europe
[_] Iraq
[_] Middle East (not Iraq)
[_] Iraq
[_] Africa
[_] Iraq
[_] Asia / Far East
[_] Iraq
[_] Misc. Third World countries
[_] Iraq
[_] Classified
[_] Iraq.

9. Please indicate the products that you currently own or intend to purchase in the near future:

[_] Colour TV
[_] VCR
[_] ICBM
[_] Killer Satellite
[_] CD Player
[_] Air-to-Air Missiles
[_] Space Shuttle
[_] Home Computer
[_] Nuclear Weapon.

10. How would you describe yourself or your organisation? (Indicate all that apply).

[_] Communist / Socialist
[_] Terrorist
[_] Crazed
[_] Neutral
[_] Democratic
[_] Dictatorship
[_] Corrupt
[_] Primitive / Tribal.

11. How did you pay for your McDonnell Douglas product?

[_] Deficit spending
[_] Cash
[_] Suitcases of cocaine
[_] Oil revenues
[_] Personal cheque
[_] Credit card
[_] Ransom money
[_] Traveller’s cheque.

12. Your occupation:

[_] Homemaker
[_] Sales / marketing
[_] Revolutionary
[_] Clerical
[_] Mercenary
[_] Tyrant
[_] Middle management
[_] Eccentric billionaire
[_] Defence Minister / General
[_] Retired
[_] Student.

13. To help us better understand our customers, please indicate the interests and activities in which you and your spouse enjoy participating on a regular basis:

[_] Golf
[_] Boating / sailing
[_] Sabotage
[_] Running / jogging
[_] Propaganda / misinformation
[_] Destabilisation / overthrow
[_] Default on loans
[_] Gardening
[_] Crafts
[_] Black market / smuggling
[_] Collectibles / collections
[_] Watching sports on TV
[_] Wines
[_] Interrogation / torture
[_] Household pets
[_] Crushing rebellions
[_] Espionage / reconnaissance
[_] Fashion clothing
[_] Border disputes
[_] Mutually Assured Destruction.

Thank you for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire. Your answers will be used in market studies that will help McDonnell Douglas serve you better in the future – as well as allowing you to receive mailings and special offers from other companies, governments, extremist groups, and mysterious consortia. As a bonus for responding to this survey, you will be registered to win a brand new F-117A in our Desert Thunder Sweepstakes!

Comments or suggestions about our fighter planes? Please write to:
McDONNELL DOUGLAS CORPORATION Marketing Department
Military, Aerospace Division.

IMPORTANT: This e-mail is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above and may contain information that is confidential privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humour or irrational religious beliefs. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail is not authorised (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas. Unless the word absquatulation has been used in its correct context somewhere other than in this warning, it does not have any legal or grammatical use and may be ignored. No animals were harmed in the transmission of this e-mail, although the kelpie next door is living on borrowed time, let me tell you. Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this warning backwards, so just ignore that Alert Notice from Microsoft. However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around yourself and your computer you can ensure that no harm befalls you and your pets. If you have received this e-mail in error, please add some nutmeg and egg whites and place it in a warm oven for 40 minutes. Whisk briefly and let it stand for 2 hours before icing.

“The Medium is the Massage!” Part 1.

No – the ‘Fourth Estate’ is not the latest housing development for which you have acquired a dodgy ‘development permission’.

Under my Post “New Technology Baffles Chain-Smoking Old Hack”, I was asked a question by ‘Tony the Prof’. He asked what I thought of the ‘other’ Jersey media.

In addition to the Jersey Evening Post, the island is “served” by a commercial radio station – ‘FM 103’, A local commercial television station which serves the Channel Islands – ‘Channel Television’, and a BBC Jersey out-post (‘gone native’) which does both radio and TV output.

I will try and answer Tony’s question – but what he asks cannot be answered in a glib sound-bite.

OK, OK – yes it can; God, you’re a ruthless bunch.

So, OK, there are two answers – a short one – and a long one.

Short answer? The Jersey media is rubbish.

Long answer? It’s still rubbish – but we must explain why, based on a theory of media.

To deliver the long answer will take a bit of space – so I’m going to have to split today’s post into two parts.

This post, Part 1, will set the scene. Later today, Part 2 will examine the theory.

So first, for those of you not familiar with media in the island of Jersey – and the key role it plays within the island’s political economy – a bit of background information is necessary.

Although Jersey is a self-governing jurisdiction, which makes its own laws and sets its own tax rates and so forth – like a mini-nation state, – it is, effectively, a single-party state. 98% of political candidates run for office as so-called “independents”.

How this manifests itself in practice is, of course, a de facto Conservative Party – operating on a covert basis working to hidden agendas. Moreover – the ‘cultural’ resistance to political parties has been very carefully nurtured and promoted by the island’s media over the decades – particularly the Jersey Evening Post.

The reason for this is obvious to anyone upon a moment’s reflection.

With political parties the voting public actually have a clear choice concerning which political philosophy and manifesto of policies they will be governed by. The electorate has power.

And that is the very last thing that the Jersey oligarchy wants to see.

Voter power, you might think, is a very foundation stone of functioning democracy. But in Jersey it is viewed as though it were the second coming of Mikhail Bakunin.

Instead, in Jersey, people like me trawl around the election campaign trail – trying to sell our wares to the voters – usually on the basis of nothing more substantive than “Hey – I’m a nice guy – my great-uncle lived in this parish – and I like your pub – so please vote for me.”

In my case I like to imagine I offer a little more substance – but the net result of this approach to democracy is a legislature comprised of a disjointed, directionless rabble which possesses no electoral mandate for a particular political direction or programme of policies.

Such a lack of focus results in a “let’s make it up as we go along” approach to policy formation. Most members of the Jersey legislature, no matter how well intentioned, are just sitting around waiting to be led – waiting to be told what to do.

And it is into this policy vacuum that the winds of power rush – sweeping up the gullible and the ignorant – and carrying them along on a Mistral of Groupthink.

For those of you familiar with Jersey politics, just carry out a simple thought-experiment. Of the 53 elected members how many of them could you imagine being able to sit a test – without notice – in which they had to describe in detail their vision for the future of Jersey, the challenges the island faces, and the policies we need for some kind of secure future?

Hell – how many of the 53 can you even name?

So there you have the polity in Jersey; a legislature largely consisting of a broadly well-meaning, but befuddled and directionless collection of passive lobby-fodder – actually eager to be told what to do by those with a keen interest in stepping into the policy and power vacuum.

That Jersey has – albeit in an insecure and unsustainable way – been reasonably successful in certain areas, is more down to a happy accident of history – rather than any great focus and vision on the part of our recent Glorious Leaders.

In this kind of political environment what, then, is the role of the media – the Fourth Estate?

Let us imagine – and I know this is a big ask – that the fantasy self-image of the average news editor and churnalist was reality – rather than self-deluded dream-world posturing.

Imagine they really were fearless seekers after truth; champions of public empowerment – brave men and women in the finest traditions of the Fourth Estate.

Under these circumstances we might imagine such people shouldering the burden of challenging The Power – analysing the capabilities of the Establishment – applying intellectually rigorous analyses to the Establishment policies – to a far greater extent than that which occurs in, say, the UK. For there, we find a tradition of political debate, the challenging of ideas and policies, the testing by opposing political parties of the others’ ideas etc. But the political environment of Jersey lacks this culture of real and informed debate.

Yet rather than stepping up to the plate – and serving the public interest in a way that compensates for the absence of organised politics and real debate – what do we find when we examine – with tongs and suitable disinfectant, of course – The Jersey Media?

The profound irony, of course, is that regardless of one’s political views – left or right, Labour or Conservative – neither outlook is well-served by a political environment which is un-focused, directionless, incompetent and shallow; a political environment in which ever greater levels of hubris, complacency and arrogance are fostered amongst the powerful through the servile, grovelling and uncritical approach of the local media.

But that is, pretty much, the kind of scene we have now.

I think I’ve given the short answer to ‘Tony the Prof’s question concerning my opinion of the Jersey media in my comments above.

But I have to justify such conclusions. So – in Part 2 – I will deliver your cut-out-and-keep guide to the functioning of the opinion management industry.

Watch this space!

Stuart Syvret

Book of the Post:

The Medium is the Massage, by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore.

Joke of the Post:

“Don’t tell my mother I work in an advertising agency; she thinks I play piano in a whorehouse.”

Jacques Seguela.