Comment is not free

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Until it changed its name in 1959, The Guardian was the Manchester Guardian. A century ago its editor, and later, its owner, was the renowned radical, C P Scott (1846-1932). He used the slogan "Comment is free, but facts are sacred" to sum up his championship of honest reporting and freedom of speech. The contemporary Guardian boasts the slogan on its news web-site. However, the number of articles on which comment is allowed has dropped sharply over the past month. Since the comments are often more worth reading than the articles, and the commentators better informed and better able to present an argument than the journalists who get paid to write them, the effect is to impoverish the web site to the point that it reflects only the Guardian's predictable line. The web site is now hardly worth the bother of a visit. Given the Guardian's investment in, and committment to, its web site, the only effect will be to reduce the number of mouse-clicks on revenue-earning links.

This has been noticeable since the release of the Panama Papers, which have been a principal, and frankly, boring, part of the newspaper's offerring for over a week now. It is striking that not a single one of the articles on the subject has been open for readers' comments. The conclusion to be drawn is that there must be something the Guardian management does not want talked about.

Once the Guardian had dug up the information that the "offshore" investments were substantially in high-end London residential property, much of the rest was irrelevant information.

The real tax havens are not the offshore islands but the streets of the capital. Any journalist worth his salt would have drawn attention to this, from which point the possible solutions are obvious and do not require international action.

 

 

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