ONE important effect of what Nick Davies calls 'churnalism' in his excellent 'Flat Earth News' is the press's reliance on official sources for stories.
An important consequence of this is that newspapers are prone to accept propaganda as truth, unquestioningly. Via Obsolete and Big Sticks and Small Carrots, is this from the Sun - 'Spy planes take on Talibrum'. Of course, we're talking about the Sun, so it's just as likely that the paper doesn't care that the story is propaganda as being unwittingly duped.
This smells so much like propaganda, it's making me gag. I'm not sure even the Sun would be stupid enough to run a story bragging about how people are unaware they're being listened to without realising that the minute the story breaks, those people will instantly know.
On top of that, having those people think they're being listened to when they're not would be a pretty good result for the armed forces. And so would having the population at home thinking we've got one over on those stupid Taliban idiots who don't even know they're being spied on.
The 'Brummie accent' thing is just an excellent hook to make sure the Sun publishes the story. Lots of people would instantly spot a hole in a story just boasting about how unaware people are that they're being spied on. Inject a little bit of fearmongering about the people at home and you instantly divert attention away from how shoddy the whole premise looks.
Garry at Big Sticks and Small Carrots had a comment on the story deleted that pointed out how stupid it was to show off that people don't know they're being listened to because that would, you know, give the game away. There has to be some reason the mods didn't want their readers spotting that, eh.
I'm betting this will be a story that ends up in text books about propaganda in a few years' time. Of course, if there's an uproar that leads to an enquiry about how an intelligence operation's cover was blown by the Sun I'll have to eat crow.
I reckon crow will be firmly off the menu.