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The imprecise art of news; InsideView.

Byline: John Lamb

MY trade is a fairly imprecise art in some respects. And judging the quality of journalism largely has to be left to the eye of the beholder.

We are accused of political bias where there is none; we are condemned for not reporting a football match fairly; we are pilloried for misinterpreting a statement; we are mocked for sometimes getting it horribly wrong, like the BBC this week over Band Aid.

Even more imprecise is measuring the success of the written word, whether it be in a proper printed organ or online.

The rough rule of thumb is that you are allowed to assess the value of the space achieved editorially by working out how much it would have cost as an advertisement.

You can then add a bit because editorial is regarded as being more valuable than advertising copy. I said it was imprecise.

However, I was surprised and delighted with the figure that Marketing Birmingham put on the value to the city of the Conservative Party Conference at The ICC. A total of pounds 47 million is a whacking sum of money and then I read that pounds 29 million of it was estimated to be the value of the publicity achieved. I rejoice that it was perceived as being that much but proving it is a difficult thing. Or challenging it for that matter.

I return to that imprecise art that is journalism and the legend of never letting the facts spoil a good story. Or statistical analysis, we could add.

John Lamb's views are not necessarily those of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he is Press and PR manager.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 5, 2010
Previous Article:A tour fit for a Lord.

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