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.
DAVID CRACKNELL - Sunday Times
'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.'
TREVOR KAVANAGH - The Sun
'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.'