How a continent, country or “small nation island” sells or markets itself to the rest of the world is crucial to its economy and prosperity. Negative press is not good for the image, so when a child-abuse scandal erupts, it can only bring negative publicity because this is the ultimate taboo subject.
This bad publicity needs to be addressed and – if possible – turned into good. For this you need the right people at the helm both politically and within the media and the services of a Max Clifford might be deemed useful. But, in our case, in Jersey, we are stuck with the States Communication Unit, the Council of Ministers and some extremely highly paid Civil Servants.
For these people, restoring the image of Jersey is paramount and they must come up with a political and media strategy to suit – but thus far they have failed miserably.
Nobody will forget the musical chairs Press Conference (below) orchestrated by Chief Minister Frank Walker where some of the silliest behaviour ever was displayed. Then we had the BBC “Newsnight” debacle which everybody, especially Big Frank, would prefer to be erased from the memory.
More recently we had Mick Gradwell all over our “accredited media” doing his utmost to discredit a fellow police professional with an unprecedented tirade of “opinions.”
Last week “Verita” held a Press Conference but Louise Journeaux – the latest recruit to the government PR machine – refused Team Voice entry because it was only for her “accredited” press chums.
As a former press-pro she must have felt some unease - and she did tell us that it was not her decision - but she could not actually pluck up the courage to say who’s it was.
Only carrying out orders as they say!
What Louise and her employers in the States Communications Unit (surely a trades description issue there?) don’t seem to grasp is that refusing to allow Citizens Media into a Press Conference can only do more harm than good. What is the worst that might have happened had we been allowed in? Suppose we asked a couple of questions. So what!?
By her refusal to deny our access she has done more harm to the reputation of our government than we could ever have done if admitted.
Unfortunately, it seems that our government and their media clones have devised a strategy of “batten down the hatches”, ”deny everything” and “do everything behind closed doors” and hope it will all go away.
But, that strategy evidently has not worked.
Instead, people have been forced onto the internet where our government has very little control.
If only our government’s strategy had been to “face up to our failings”, “let us be responsible” and “show the world how we want to put things right” – then we might just have rid our government and Civil Service of the disease that has festered for decades.
It need not have turned into a disaster.
The reputation of Jersey would have dived for a while but we could have demonstrated to the whole world that we are a responsible, caring little community that is capable of doing the right things in a prompt – albeit now belated - fashion.
Instead, the whole sorry saga looks to be grinding-on for years yet and an international audience now has more questions than ever left unanswered and many personal reputations lie in tatters.
Besides which, for far too many survivors of child abuse in Jersey, there has still been no justice achieved after decades and they must continue to seek peace of mind, as best they can.
And, so far as the running of Jersey’s General Hospital is concerned - and the patient death three years ago that provoked the damming “Verita” report – the reform clock is already ticking.
The initial responses from the current Minister of Health and the closed attitudes demonstrated at the Press Conference do not promise well.
Yet, we would still implore our government to CHANGE STRATEGY and to start being open with the people of Jersey and the wider world audience.
Only further damage and anguish can result from current press policies and Jersey’s reputation will remain damaged for many years to come.
Credit must go to Eric Blakley for this bulletin.
Submitted by Team Voice.
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