The whole world seems to be intrigued by the real-life soap opera starring Rupert Murdoch and Rebecca Brooks in the lead roles, so I thought I’d throw my own bronze coin into the hat.
For those not in the know here’s a recap of the saga so far: celebrity phone hacking by a newspaper, political and non-celebrity hacking by same newspaper, police corruption, involvement of criminals, termination of said newspaper, ongoing survey of the rot.
While there are a lot of reports that have made people hover a hand over their open mouths, I’m not that surprised by what has been unearthed. What I am surprised about is the decades-long delay for stories to surface.
News media, primarily in rabid print form, has one function: to deliver what their competitors don’t have in hopes that you’ll throw some money their way. Some have blamed the consumer for seeding the problem, but without ever having a taste of the drug – headlines that appeal temptation – you can’t have an army of addicts.
When a company throws away its moral compass only to chase profits, what will happen is what we’ve seen. Unscrupulous practice is just the tip of the iceberg though as another equally severe matter is quality of journalism. There are often just two types of journalists, the extremely liberal and the extremely conservative. When you have these biases you do get passionate, interesting articles, but they simply reach a predetermined audience, those who agree with a piece before reading the first word. In an ideal world there would either be shared column space for opposing views, or articles that are simply embellished by all facts and not slanted. News, in my opinion, should make its audience draw its own conclusions, not spoon-feed. That said, a lot of people want to be spoon-fed and that keeps the beast alive.
What this all boils down to is respect for people either as consumers of news or makers of news, otherwise such organisations just become old news.
I don’t particularly care whether Murdoch gets control of Sky, as most media think with the same head whether they’re grouped under any umbrella. Whatever news I read I tend to often look for an opposing angle to make sure I don’t fall under the spell of propaganda.
Don’t think you can rest on your laurels with the higher quality papers. Johann Hari’s more minor mishap being to not cite sources shows that even the ‘good guys’, under pressure to perform will simply reheat another chef’s dish. Personally, and not just to praise the medium I’m using, I’m more likely to submit to the words of exceptional independent bloggers who are not really doing it for the money.