Monday, 4 July 2011

Who's news?

The telephone hacking scandal by the News of the World took another twist today. The Guardian has claimed that the News of the World used a private investigator to hack into Milly Dowler's phone messages whilst she was missing. It goes on to allege that the investigator even deleted some messages so that there was room for more to be added, but giving the impression that the schoolgirl was still alive and accessing her phone.

The hacking scandal has dragged on for a few months. At first it was a bit of a slow story that filled a couple of column inches on a slow news day, then celebrities, the holy grail of journalism, realised that they too had been hacked and the story hit the headlines. But still in a salacious, peeping out from behind the curtains type way. But now, the whole episode has taken on a more sinister turn and the moral majority are shocked and outraged that such an invasion of privacy could have taken place in such tragic circumstances.

But wait. Isn't the News of the Wold the biggest selling Sunday Newspaper in this country? Aren't at least some of those people who are now bleating about the insensitivity of it all, the same people who are buying the same newspaper, primarily for the gossip and secrets that they can reveal.Richard Maddely was commenting on Twitter. He suggested there were parallels between this case and the Watergate Scandal that brought down a President. He reasoned that the press were uncovering a huge story, layer by layer, until the whole thing will tumble like a card tower. But is this true? Is it just a case of making commercial capital? Have the Guardian attacked one of the newspapers owned by others, just for sales? And do we get the press we deserve?

What worries me most, is that these newspapers hope to influence their readers in the run up to elections and suggest who they should vote for. One particular newspaper (that I won't mention due to the fact that they printed lies under a large headline "THE TRUTH") claimed after one particular general election "It was us what won it".

There is some excellent journalism around. But unfortunately, too much of the important stuff gets hidden by the trivial. And boy do we lap up the trivial.

It's been a long time since I have bought a newspaper. Don't get me wrong, I can be as nosey as the next person when it comes to celebrity gossip, but I refuse to hand over my cash to promulgate the practice, and if there was no more celebrity gossip, i can honestly say my life will probably be the richer, not poorer.

So to those that are disgusted with any newspaper that could stoop so low as to tap the phone of a murdered teenager (and I expect that is almost everyone who ever reads my words), just take a step back and ask whether you have contributed to the economy that demands more and more excessive journalism.

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