Media & PR

The most republished Parliamentary question ever? Trafigura and the Ivory Coast

As The Spectator reports, The Guardian has had an injunction served on it preventing it reporting a written question tabled in Parliament.

This being the internet age, not only is #trafigura a trending topic on Twitter but more substantively the question in answer has been (at the time of writing) republished verbatim  just under 300 times elsewhere on the internet.

I struggle to think of another Parliamentary question that has got that level of coverage. (Know otherwise? Do post up a comment.)

The result of the injunction, far from stopping the spread of the story has been to highlight and accelerate its spread. How much the mainstream media pick up on the story now will determine whether overall the injunction ends up being completely counter-productive (as, even now, the offline media audiences usually dwarf the online ones).

My bet though is that the media will be much more willing to run stories about The Guardian being gagged from reporting Parliament than they would have been to pick up on a story that just appeared in The Guardian in the normal course of events.

Although this is an extreme case (gagging a newspaper from reporting Parliament), the overall lesson is widely applicable. Try to stop something being published and it often spreads widely on the internet as a result; a lesson that Barbara Streisand learnt in the 1990s when she tried to stop a photograph of her house being published, giving birth to the phrase the “Streisand effect” to describe this sort of situation.

UPDATE: Here’s an example of a mainstream media story which is now running, mentioning Trafigura and telling readers that “last month [Trafigura] announced that it would pay out millions of pounds without any admission of liability over allegations that it dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast in 2006”. Without the injunction, the Daily Telegraph would not have been reminding people of that story today.

3 responses to “The most republished Parliamentary question ever? Trafigura and the Ivory Coast”

  1. Besides dumping toxic waste on the Ivory Coast, Trafigura is the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in Norway for exposing the inhabitants of a Norwegian village to the danger of a massive leak of lethal gas. According to a retired Norwegian professor of chemistry, this outcome was only averted by an accidental explosion and fire at the site where the unlawfully imported chemicals were being stored See: for details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments and data you submit with them will be handled in line with the privacy and moderation policies.