The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Hutton - journos, notes and remembering

Ploughing through Day 2's evidence (thank Goodness Hutton's only taking evidence four days a week!), I'm impressed by the fact that Gilligan has difficulty being certain whether or not he met Kelly during specified periods in the last couple of years; yet credits his memory with sufficient power to dispense with written records of conversations - not all, but most - on the basis of which he breaks his stories.

Given the technicality and complexity of the topics he discusses with his specialist sources, and the breadth of his own remit (roaming over the entire subject of defence) this rank amateur finds it incredible that he can trust his memory to keep the skeins of information from getting tangled. Lawyers, doctors, scientists all make notes: Gilligan, not so much.

And whatever happened to Pitman's and Gregg's boon to humanity? Don't journos do the shorthand thing any more?

[We're only at Day 2 - this may be jumping the gun by miles. But, when it comes to reliability of evidence, it is, I think, a point to watch. The materials we - the peasants - have on Hutton are all written [1]. We can flip windows, compare and constrast, and read stuff over and over: and even then, getting even the barest outline clear in the brain is a job of work!]

  1. Except for reports on the broadcast media, of course. I'd say, around 5-7 minutes on the BBC Ten O'Clock News (2200, that is), including packages with evidence read by actors and 2-ways with journos sitting in on the Inquiry. No sign yet of more extensive dramatisations of testimony on TV.


The Guardian had a piece yesterday on the Palm Pilot, the mode of recording used by Gilligan (hereinafter, AG - Gilligan is a bugger to type!) for the crucial May 22 meeting with David Kelly (hereinafter DK). Supposedly you can get 30wpm.

And Google News, on gilligan shorthand, threw up a Guardian piece from July 21 on the (then) first signs of BBC folk deserting the sinking journo - noted for future reference.


Proper shorthand (100wpm or so ) seems still to be widely taught to British journalists yet not to American (both 1998 sources). Is that still right? How many British hacks the age of AG still use it?

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