Sunday, July 10, 2011

The World of the News

So after 140 years of Journalism, and 28 years of tabloid muck-raking, the News of the World rolled off the presses today for the last time.

/target grave

But the thing that bother me most about the phone hacking scandal is that phone hacking itself doesn't have to be a bad thing.

I mean, if some journalist hacked David Cameron's voicemail and found out he was selling arms to both sides in the Libyan Conflict it'd be lauded as the best feat of journalism of the 21st century. Woodward and Bernstein ride again.

The issue isn't that they broke into places and stole secret information; that is what journalists are supposed to do. The problem is that they picked totally innocent people to do it to. Private citizens and the victims of heinous crimes - the people that the 4th estate should be trying to protect, not expose - as well as celebrities, so they could feed the gossip and rumour mill that the press has become.

That's where the problem is. It's not *how* they gather their information but what sort of information they consider important. That won't go away because they've stopped hacking phones.

I have a horrible feeling that lots of laws will come in as a result of this, that completely address the act of listening in on peoples' voicemail, but meanwhile, the newspapers (and other rags that pass themselves off as newspapers) will continue to focus on what doesn't matter. They'll continue to put footballers' mistresses on the front page, while wars and global calamities will get pushed further back.

The problem will only go away when someone smacks the industry around and teaches them what their job is supposed to be. The difference between seeking and exposing the truth, and selling an advanced advertising delivery method.

1 comment:

  1. They hacked war-widows phones, the phones of family of the 7/7 victims... but the most heinous part for me was the journalists who hacked the phone of the murdered girl 1) listened to all the messages left by her aggrieved family, 2) then deleted them, which had the knock-on effect of giving the family hope the girl was alive and could hear the messages if not reply, so 3) the family left more messages, thus creating more fodder for the journalists.