Tony Blair Calls Media a 'Feral Beast'

By: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday the country's media sometimes resembled "a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits" as journalists compete for controversy and sensation.

Blair, bemoaning the deterioration in the relationship between government and the media during his decade in office, said it needed to be repaired. He said the increased competition among journalists was compounded by the proliferation of new media.

"I do believe this relationship between public life and the media is now damaged in a way that requires repair," he told reporters.

"The damage saps the country's confidence and self-belief; it undermines its assessment of itself and its institutions; and above all it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions in the right spirit for the future."

Blair said fragmentation and intense competition had driven journalists to seek ever more sensational stories.

"It is this necessary devotion to impact that is unraveling standards, driving them down, making the diversity of the media not the strength it should be but an impulsion to sensation above all else," Blair said.

When it operates in a pack, Blair said, the media "is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out."

Blair, who leaves office on June 27, noted that there are several agencies that regulate broadcasters, the press and other media - a situation that he said was "increasingly irrational."

"The regulatory framework at some point will need revision," he said.

"As the technology blurs the distinction between papers and television, it becomes increasingly irrational to have different systems of accountability based on technology that can no longer be differentiated in the old way."


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