OPINION: The Big Question - As a journalist, how do you feel about being 'graded' by PROs?

Thompson Intermedia last week launched its National News Index

evaluation system, tracking corporate reputations across the media.

Among other tricks, it rates individual journalists on their likely

'perspective' on a given story.


'I think this sort of rating goes on already, if only in an informal way

among PROs, politicians and so on. I am not offended by an official

rating, nor am I going to get angry over it, as it's all just part of

spin by one company serving its own interests. It's an attempt to

formalise data, but the crucial issue is how a company categorises

individual journalists, and how easy it is to do that. Journalists know

themselves and their level of confidence and experience will dictate how

they view and cope with this type of spin. Journalists will ultimately

have to make their own judgement about it.'

ROBERT BAILHACHE - Sunday Business

'The idea of any data being gathered on journalists is sinister enough.

But the idea of journalists being rated as to the probability of

securing favourable coverage is deeply troubling. Call me naive, but I

find it shocking that anyone would try to compile such a league. Its

creation suggests some hacks can indeed be bought. Good journalists are

not afraid of being graded - they live with the knowledge they will be

rated by a range of criteria every time they are published. Any formal

attempt to rank journalists begs the question of who sits as judge and

jury. The grading of hacks by positive coverage should be treated with

the contempt that the architects of the system clearly have for the

pursuit of truth.'

JEF MCALLISTER - Time Magazine

'This is a surprise, but I guess it's just the free market at work - if

someone can be bothered to produce such an analysis and clients are

prepared to pay for it ... There is the possibility that it represents

an insult to journalistic integrity but the bigger problem is that it's

hard to believe there is the experience in the market to make these

sorts of predictions accurate. Like a lot of ratings, there's always the

chance it will turn out to be total crap. But journalists are big boys

and we can take it. It might be interesting to know if the PR industry

thinks of you as a bit of a patsy. Political journalists often get rated

according to how close they are to Blair or others in government - it's

an established parlour game in Westminster. This strikes me as a less

reliable version of that in the commercial world.'


'The key question is who is to be the judge of these ratings. And are

those who have been judged allowed some sort of comeback if they

disagree with the decisions made about them. As long as journalists are

allowed a right to respond and to defend themselves I see no massive

problem with it. If I was on the list, I would certainly not wish to be

seen as someone who was easily spun - no journalist wishes to be seen in

that light because it implies naivety and that you are being taken for a

fool. I suppose it all depends on the strength of the assessment made

about you - you wouldn't want something truly offensive written about

you. But even though such a declaration might be damaging to your

reputation, I am firm on the point that journalists shouldn't sue and

shouldn't be precious about their status.'

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