The recent poll by Ipsos MORI said it all, we don’t trust journalists. When I say we, I mean you, the Great British public. I trust journalists, at least I trust proper journalists, investigative journalists who expose corruption and wrongdoing, not those who create it.
I felt physically sick as more details of the News of the World’s hacking and other illegal activities came to light throughout this week. The public were already repulsed by the treatment of the parents of Millie Dowler as they were questioned in court as if they were on trial. So when stories of potential hacking of the teenager’s phone by a private detective working for the News of the World started to break, we weren’t having any of it. Then it was the phones of the two schoolgirls murdered in Soham, then it was bereaved relatives of soldiers and victims of the 7/7 bombings, it wasn’t ending, it was just beginning.
We have a self-regulated press in this country which by and large has worked, there is no censorship, editors and publishers are subject to the laws of libel and contempt of court as well as the criminal law. It’s always been argued no further regulation is needed – and I agree, who wants the Government sticking its oars into media censorship? The Press Complaints Commission needs a re-vamp and there must be an independent inquiry into the actions of the News of the World management and its accountability, which will make recommendations into future behaviour. But no, not censorship, never.
The demise of the News of the World is not deserved, many excellent journalists and other staff have lost their jobs because someone, somewhere, probably high up in News International, sanctioned and financed illegal actions.
What now? The print media is in decline, the News of the World was one of the country’s best-selling newspapers, 2.7million, or one copy for every 23 people in the country, according to the Guardian (circulation about 270,000). What does this mean for journalists?
I always go into rant mode when people criticise journalists – they (maybe I should say we, although I trained more than 30 years ago, I still consider myself a journalist) print the stories people want to read. People complain about all the bad news they read – why? They don’t want to hear what’s good, it’s not news. People complain that the lightweight stories about celebrities and celebrity wannabes – why? It’s what they ask for. We get the press we deserve – and we’ll be very sorry when it’s gone. The public don’t trust journalists? Wait until all the news is from Twitter, Facebook and bloggers. How will we know who’s right? How will we know they’re not pushing someone’s agenda? Who will we trust?
Yes, I’m shocked and ashamed by the behaviour of some journalists, but it shouldn’t give the rest a bad press. And if you think journalists are not trusted, bottom of the MORI poll were politicians, they were even above bankers…….