Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Three steps for inverse hindsighting


Guess: What word was the most used by the Prime Minister, the police chiefs and the News Co heir in the parliamentary sessions about the phone hacking scandal? Without a proper count I would bet on 'hindsight'. At least I am sure that in the last couple of days I've heard it much more than it is usual. Cameron, the Sheriffs and the Murdochs, they all used it several times in the select committees and in the House of Commons. It is a good word and it has proved handy.

I looked it up. It means “recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence”. Check. They’ve all deployed 'hindsight' according to its exact definition. But can one be a bit more daring? Like, I can give you some hindsight for the future.... Or: Now it is time to start thinking with future hindsight.... Mmm, it might not work. Maybe the best is to avoid the word altogether. So let’s try three easy steps for not having to use 'hindsight' ever again:

1- Do not judge the people you hire just for what they tell you or for their performance at work. Especially if they are being accused of fostering something sneaky like phone hacking, assume that they will not necessarily announce it or let it show in what you see them doing. Chances are they may be very competent in the tasks they are assigned and even work on their free time watching footage from the hidden camera in your toilet.

2- Stop associating free press with lack of regulation. Acknowledge that the latter has actually contributed to monopoly, hence less free press. Reject operations of concentration of media under a corporation already too big too be manageable. Regulation from the State may work better than regulation from a boardroom on the other side of the ocean.

3- Try to understand why everyone goes on about investigative journalism but it was the Guardian, a cooperative business, using legal means we think, the one newspaper responsible for unveiling this truth. What would happen if the Guardian didn’t exist? What if News International owned it? It may be a great idea for the Police, the PM and the directors of News Corporation, following their hindsight admission of complete failure in discovering the truth under their noses, to thank the Guardian for doing it for them.

The History of Words

Before words, each person's thoughts could develop freely without the intervention of strangers’. If someone liked an other, a warm gest...