Sunday, July 10, 2005

Amid the carnage, a soaring Standard

Amid the carnage, a soaring Standard

Peter Preston
Sunday July 10, 2005
The Observer

Sometimes - in the sudden grip of calamity - you feel a certain awe, an admiration of superb professionalism. London's emergency services had that glow last week, of course, at a time of stress and heroism. But - more quietly - add a little admiration for the media performance too.

Does it matter whether Sky News had a slight edge in decision-making over BBC News 24, and a slight resources edge over ITN? Not much. They were all terrific. But then, so were those normally bitter and backbiting rivals we call newspapers.

If there are special medals going, perhaps, they head first to the Evening Standard, which moved with a mighty heave when London triumphant over the Olympics became London devastated within 15 minutes. The Standard is occasionally criticised for putting celebrity features first and news a distant second. But this was an essential news challenge, and they met it pretty superbly, adding scores of thousands of extra copies in the process.

And maybe two other points stand out across the swathe of extra pages the rest of Fleet Street added at the double. One - just as for the tsunami - was seeing how technology has altered the information game. Now, thanks to mobile phones and digital cameras, the public aren't passive receivers of news any longer. They are umbilically connected to the action. They are there when something bad happens, taking their own pictures, giving their own eyewitness testimony. (Who says we can't trust newspapers any longer? We can, it seems, trust ourselves now.)...