The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142076   Message #3273269
Posted By: Howard Jones
13-Dec-11 - 02:54 PM
Thread Name: Folk awards FoI request denied
Subject: RE: Folk awards FoI request denied
I rather like Emma's blog as a rule, and most of the time I think she writes entertainingly about folk. But as I've said on other threads, I think she's wrong about this, and it's starting to look self-publicising. I'm not entirely clear how knowing the identity of the judges will make the voting process more transparent.

Let's consider some of the issues:

1) The BBC's head of compliance - who is the one in the firing line if there's another scandal - is satisfied that the Folk Awards comply with the Beeb's rules.

2) Smoothops have given a justifiable reason for not releasing the names. You may not agree with it, you may put forward alternative arguments, but the reason they give is plausible. And the names aren't secret - Smoothops won't release them but there's no gagging order on the judges to silence them.

3) It's a small world, and it's possible to make a guess at the sort of people who might be judges. I find it hard to believe that any performer who is sufficiently active and prominent on the folk scene to be in the running isn't already in contact with, or at least on the radar of, the majority of judges.

4) There are only a few folk agents. If one of them has a high proportion of the best-known and most active performers on his books, it seems unsurprising that a large number of them will be represented at the awards

5) the same goes for record labels

6) whilst we could all suggest alternative names, no one has suggested that any of the performers on the shortlist don't deserve to be there

7) The BBC has stated that the information sought by Emma's FOI request is outside the scope of the Act. The Information Commissione apparently agrees with this view. Is the Commissioner part of a conspiracy too?

The whole thing seems to be founded on the (mistaken) belief by a friend of Emma that he was not allowed to reveal that he was a judge, and that a band she likes may not have been considered, although they don't perform on the folk scene. It's starting to look like a journalist in search of a story. It might be raising Emma's profile as a journalist (now she's the subject of a Guardian article, not bad for someone no one had heard of a few months ago) but she's in danger of losing credibility in the world she writes about. But maybe she just sees this a stepping stone to bigger things. We'll see.