Select no-spin cycle

Former BBC correspondent Nicholas Jones on Gordon Brown and the media
Gordon Brown, who is signalling that he will turn his back on the spin culture of the Blair era, has an unparalleled opportunity to transform the way information is shared with both the media and the public. Government departments and public authorities can now communicate instantly not just with news media but also with pressure groups, bloggers and individual citizens. All these disparate interests can have access to the same information at the same time via websites and email; what is lacking is any sign of a coordinated response from officialdom

Ensuring equal access would bring immediate gains: all sections of the news media would be on an equal footing and so would campaigners and the like. By striving to reduce the deliberate and often authorised leaks and tip-offs which have become so common in Whitehall, there would be fewer hiding places either for the journalists who take advantage of the anonymity of their sources or those who seek to sabotage their colleagues' exclusives with malicious or bogus stories...

Thanks to the increasing dominance of the internet and the enthusiasm with which the traditional news media have embraced interaction with readers, viewers and listeners, there is now an ideal opportunity to match the pioneering work of Clem Attlee in promoting what he always hoped would be the people's "conscious and active participation in public affairs". But where, oh where, is the vision of the postwar Labour government?