I have just finished watching the first weeks evidence in the Leveson Inquiry. Hopefully, I will post about this in greater detail over the weekend.
The concensus among Journalists (reporting on the Inquiry)seems to be that this has been a bad week for Tabloid Journalists. The BBC, Sky, ITN broadcast journalists and the journalists from the heavyweight serious end of the newspaper market (ie The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph) are distancing themselves from their erstwhile tabloid colleagues. Even in evidence to the Inquiry, author J K Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter books makes the point that it is a shame that we have to use the same word for both “real” journalists and tabloid hacks. I have often made this point myself.
I find this very curious. There has surely been ample opportunity over decades and indeed over the past few years for “serious” journalists to detach themselves from their colleagues (and fellow members of the National Union of Journalists) in the gutter and sewer end of the market. The tabloid hacks have clung to the fig leaf and highly noble right of Press Freedom.
If the “real” journalists are to retain credibility, they need to be more ruthless.
Indulging in hyperbole, I set my statement in context. This Inquiry is turning out to be the Nuremburg Trial for Journalist Nazis. The “tabloid” hacks are the SS of British Journalism. But rather like the German Wermacht in WW2, the “serious” journalists are posng too late as credible “good Germans” who knew nothing of their colleagues excesses. We already know that the phone hacking and other abuses were on an “industrial scale” and it says nothing for the observational skills of “serious” journalists that they failed to report what was happening under their noses. Perhaps worst of all are those still prepared to defend tabloid journalism……such as the increasingly histrionic Kelvin McKenzie. In this context…….McKenzie is little more than a holocaust denier.
Nor does it say much for the credibility of Norn Irons alleged leading political messageboard, which heroically ignores a story it was ever ready to report back in the heady days when phone hacking and tabloid excess was regarded as an exception.