Archive for March 18, 2012

Nuts and Bolts: Journalism

Posted: March 18, 2012 in notes, Sweden

Once again something from a crime fiction book has got me thinking about the events of the past year, and the ramifications of the Leveson Inquiry.

‘I’m deeply committed to journalism,’ he said. ‘The man in the street is my employer. I’ve fought against corruption and the abuse of power all of my professional life. That’s the very core of journalism. The truth is my guiding light, not influence, and not power.’  Exposed: Liza Marklund 1999

I could have subtitled this post, the good, the bad and the ugly. 

The Good:

The Daily Telegraph exposed the abuse of the lax expenses system in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, and some MPs went to prison. 

Today’s Observer has an excellent article by Yvonne Roberts featuring the plight of Britain’s working poor who will soon lose tax credits at a time when the country’s 1% top earners will get a reduction in their tax burden. 

The Bad:

The disgraceful invasion of privacy by some newspapers using private detectives to phone hack people’s messages to obtain stories for the entertainment of “the man or woman in the street” may well bring about restrictions on a free press. The payment of vast sums of money to wealthy celebrities and politicians whose phones were hacked can only be justified if this money was forwarded along to charities. I exclude from this the family of a young murder victim, and the neighbour of a murder victim whose reputation was torn to ribbons by the predatory press. 

The Leveson Inquiry has exposed a very unhealthy relationship between powerful media tycoons, journalists, politicians and the police. If this occurred in Italy we would be smiling and calling the country institutionally corrupt. We now have the incredible situation of a government minister resigning because he has been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice; and two of the Prime Minister’s close friends, one of whom Rebekah Brooks was formerly CEO of News International, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. 

The Ugly:

This recent headline in the print version of The Guardian was an example of journalists trying to be too clever.

Revealed:London doctor who advised Assad during crackdown

Of course the online version headline was changed as someone realised  that most people who had a brain knew that the “Harley Street cardiologist who was acting as a close adviser to the president of Syria during his regime’s brutal crackdown” was Dr Fawas Akhras, Assad’s father -in- law. The situation in Syria is serious enough without stupid non-stories. 

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Will ethical journalists still have the freedom to pursue the corrupt, and expose scandals after the Leveson Inquiry eventually reports?