Donald Trump movie and the ill-defined concept of the ‘public interest’…

If you have watched You’ve Been Trumped yet, you should. There are many strong points to this documentary on not just how Donald Trump threw his weight around with local residents whose homes bordered his development in Aberdeenshire.

But of most interest to me is the degree to which the Scottish media and Scottish civil society meekly abandoned any public interest duty and at the very least acquiesced in the rich American’s appalling treatment of his ‘neighbours’.

One of the most telling passages in the hour and a half long film was in a Press Conference, when the independent film maker was told that only real journalists could ask questions.

A freelancer – largely on his own and with no big media brand to quote at the cops – Anthony Baxter was lumped into an police cell for four hours on the word of a contractor who had separately accused him of a breach of the peace some time before.

It’s instructive at one point to hear one policeman ask him to turn off his camera when Baxter points out that in Scotland there is a law called right to roam and that they are effectively telling him that this does not apply in the case of Mr Trump’s land.

It’s powerful, emotive and almost certainly takes the side of the residents of the Menie Estate who’s houses back on to the new golf course.

There’s also a swipe at Alex Salmond and the SNP who played a prominent role in ensuring Trump was given permission to build in an area designated as an SSSI.

It raises an important question about the public interest and when does it kick in?

One of the most notable finding in a research report published yesterday by the Carnegie Foundation (which co-incidentally is also based in Scotland) is that in the UK, there is no definition of the Public Interest in relation to the press.

A fact underlined in the judgement of Mr Justice Eady in the Max Mosely case of 2008 (on the right), which he pointed out that the term ‘public interest’ whilst much used in the defence of intrusive journalistic techniques, is not defined as a legal term.

Define it too narrowly and it becomes useless for most situations. Too broad and press freedom becomes licence. Interestingly, not least because of the furore around the BBC, the Carnegie research suggests the public would be cautious publishers.

Despite his blatant partisanship with the community of Menie, Baxter’s film looks to me like a case of someone taking public interest seriously. It’s also unusual (and this is a real advantage of independents) in that it took nearly six years to make.

It’s rare for commissioning editors to think in such long time frame. Yet you often need to follow any inveterate issue over several iterations before you can get a handle on what’s real and what’s just your own projected belief.

Burying bad news on Friday only works because too many news frames have collapsed into the era of the nanosecond, as Julia Hobsbawm has put it.

You’ve been Trumped is still available on the iPlayer… Or even join us for Friday’s edition of #DigitalLunch on the subject

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty