The phone hacking scandal. Are people getting bored now? It’s always the way – people like to talk about themselves. Journalists love their own war stories and the biggest news in town is now all about them.
Earlier this week whilst listening to the Radio 4 Media show, I heard one of the guests, Roger Alton, the executive editor of The Times commenting on Rebekah Brooks’s assertions that The News of the World was not the only newspaper to use private investigators to source information and discussed what a wider investigation could mean for British journalism.
During the piece he seemed to invite the listener to feel for the wonderful journalists made redundant at that fine, venerable paper The News Of The World ( NOTW) and at the same time to feel sympathy for his friend Rebekah. No, sorry pal, you can’t have it both ways – they got the chop to save her skin initially and it was made worse by the fact that the sacrifice was eventually in vain .
I have some difficulty with the newspapermen and their rose-tinted view of their own world, weeping as the instituition, that was the NOTW, closed. “Another nail in the coffin for democracy” ” a sad day” etc. No it isn’t. The printed word , at least as far as newspapers are concerned, is suffering a decline in the face of the broadcast and online media. Not for nothing was the NOTW known as the News of the Screws.
In my opinion, despite it’s pedigree and age, it will not be missed. It added nothing worthwhile to our lives. One could argue that it had a negative impact as it played it’s part in the collective dumbing down of our population’s intellect and the skewing of that same population’s perception of the world to one dominated by sex, celebrity, football and mobile phone adverts. (often all the above at the same time!) Meanwhile the journos still bleat on about the “good old days, hot metal, fathers of chapel, where’s that messenger boy, working on the stone, another pope died so we had to start again…..”
Returning to the Phone Hacking scandal, from the ratatouille of Politics, Law and Journalism two ideas emerge. Firstly who can you trust? I take The Times and The Sunday Times, watch and listen to the BBC (not Sky – can’t be doing with the cyborg presenters) for news. Who do you believe ? (apart from the cynical and obvious none of the above) What am I being fed here? What spin is being put on all this and at whose direction?
One day The Times is full of the scandal as deep as page 13, the next day barely a mention. An interesting parallel with Murdoch’s journey from closing the NOTW whilst retaining Brooks to personally apologising to the Dowler family and enduring “The most Humble day of his life” What changed? The suggestion that 9/11 victims were hacked and a PR firm most likely!
The second idea is one of engagement. Outside the media and political milieu, how many people in the UK are starting to lose interest now and feel that there are more
important things to worry about? A major famine in East Africa and the crisis of the Euro for a start. Try the following quiz to locate yourself:
Read down the list below – How many names do you know?
1. Milly Dowler
2. Rebekah Brooks
3. Rupert Murdoch
4. James Murdoch
5. Hugh Grant
6. Glen Mulcaire
7. Les Hinton
8. Clive Goodman
9. Andy Coulson
10. Neil Wallis
11. Wendy Deng
12. Jonny Marbles
13. Gordon Taylor
14. Tom Watson
15. Sir Paul Stephenson
16. Colin Myler
17. Harbottle & Lewis
18. James Weatherup
19. Neville Thurlbeck
20. Paul Farrely
21. Sean Hoare
22. Tom Crone
23. Louise Mensch
Most of 1 to 5 – Is someone else reading this out to you?
Most of 1 to 10 – You take a fairly close interest in current affairs.
Most of 1 to 15 – You work in the media.
All of 1 to 23 – You work for News international and are expecting a knock on the door or you are a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Finally some light relief, if it’s possible: