After prompting its readers to email Newsnight presenter Gavin
Esler, the website Medialens has now recommended they discontinue
Our goal is to encourage reasoned debate. This seems unlikely
to result from writing to Gavin Esler. We are therefore not
recommending that readers write to him at this time.
But Esler's no different from other journalists who dislike
Medialens's approach, so why not apply the above reasoning to
all such journalists - ie cease these email campaigns, since reasoned
debate "seems unlikely to result"?
Medialens has previously provided a rationale - that the emails
aren't primarily for the benefit of the journalists, they're for
readers to see how journalists respond to challenges from "members
of the public".
So why stop now? If Esler's arguments are so weak, and if the
Medialens subscribers' emails are hitting a nerve, why do the
Medialens editors suggest that their readers stop writing to Esler
at this point? It doesn't make sense.
Unless there's an unspoken perception that perhaps Esler
is partially right, and that these emails often come across
as "identikit" and "robotic". In which case,
continuing the email campaign would reflect badly on Medialens.
Medialens would have more credibility for me if they'd written,
as a "suggested action", not that their readers should
stop emailing Esler, but that they should continue,
taking care to write their own thoughts, in their own
words whenever appropriate (ie when they perceive Esler to
be talking dangerous nonsense).
As for the "robotic" behaviour alleged by Esler, I
guess we can judge according to how many of Medialens's readers
follow the recommendation to stop (after previously following
the recommendation to start). Start now. Stop now. Don't think
for yourself, follow the leader.