EDITORIAL: Doing a Moore is a timely excuse

Delia may be cock-a-hoop to have entered the English vocabulary,

but Jo Moore is probably less than delighted that her name has passed

into common usage. To 'do a Jo Moore' has now become shorthand for any

attempt to time news releases.

The furore over the much disputed minutes of trade secretary Stephen

Byers' meeting with Railtrack chairman John Robinson is a case in point.

Byers offered to take the rap, but the media are determined to point the

finger at Moore.

But while Chancellor Gordon Brown is no doubt smarting at seeing his

pre-budget report upstaged, the attempt to time a news announcement is

not a crime. Moore's ghastly attempts to bury news in the aftermath of

11 September displayed a singular lack of compassion for which she was

deservedly pilloried. And as PRWeek pointed out at the time,

extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. But as the world

returns to some semblance of normality, to imagine that firms, never

mind governments, do not seek to minimise or maximise coverage by timing

an announcement, is simply naive.

Any PRO worth their salt will be aware of the media agenda and current

affairs that may impact on the reception of their story. And

journalists, whether they admit it or not, nurture valued PR contacts

and play along.

But Moore - having lost the trust of the press - is now fair game. And

from the Cabinet's point of view, for the time being at least, she is

useful to keep around as a scapegoat and a lightning rod for all the

ill-will of the media.

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