Michael Skapinker in the Financial Times offers a caution for management readers (subscribers only). “As soon as the Iraqi war is over, business school professors will start touting their books on the implications for corporate strategy.” Don’t rush to read them.
“This is the third difference between war and business: customers. Battles are fought directly, armed force against armed force. The civilian population need to be won over; handled badly, they can greatly impede an army’s progress. As friends and allies, they can be of huge assistance. But they are not the principal object of war: the enemy is. Companies, however, are not engaged in direct combat, although they often talk as if they are. They do not, unless criminally inclined, destroy each other’s head offices or blow up each other’s loading bays. Their sole business is to persuade third parties — customers — that their offerings are better than the competition’s.”
The revived British Politics gets better and better. Today he takes on Telegraph columnist Barbara Amiel and the others who decry the BBC’s attempts to be balanced in its reporting.
“Once you abandon objectivity everything that is produced is suspect. The problem is that if you want to convince, you cannot just tell people one side of the story. You have to show that of both sides, one is more in accordance with reality. To do that, you need to give both sides a fair hearing, no matter how unpleasant they are. Those who interview his spokespeople and counterpose that with reality better make the point that Saddams regime is evil than those who throw accusations at him.
“The second reason that this would have been a bad idea is that objectivity is like virginity. Once you lose it, you cant get it back. If you didnt give Stalin objective reporting, then why give independence leaders objective reporting? or the Viet Cong? or indeed any movement editors or producers dislike? The justification of partiality is that these people dont deserve fair treatment. But who decides the virtuous and the unclean? Can they be trusted?
“That way Pravda lies.”
The Guardian has a good feature on the division of journalists into the “awkward squad” and the more compliant. “The apparent divide across the Atlantic may signal the greater support for the war in Iraq among the American public and the often more deferential nature of their journalists.”