The Great Debate UK
–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–
If you ask a lawyer what to do, he’ll recommend a legal remedy – what do you expect? In the same way, many of our politicians have a background as lawyers, so no wonder we have such a proliferation of unnecessary laws. Besides, it does provide plenty of work for old pals…
The Leveson Report fits the pattern. From the welter of reaction to it, I am amazed at how rarely the word “whitewash” seems to crop up, because that is what it is. It not only appears to be totally relaxed about the close, not to say intimate relationships between press and politicians we have seen exposed in recent months but, even worse, it is apparently unconcerned about the role played by the police – which is the most disturbing aspect of the whole sorry tale.
Since there was obviously no public interest defence for hacking the phones of the Dowlers, it was plainly a criminal offence, for which the perpetrators should go to jail for a longish stretch. But if Leveson had left matters there, the question of why the police had been so inert and of why they could not be relied on in the future in similar situations would have been thrown into sharp focus. We would have been left with the (correct) conclusion that there was no gap in the law, only in the failure to apply it on the part of a police force that was in an extremely unhealthy relationship with parts of the Fourth Estate.
from The Great Debate:
It is easy to imagine the look on the faces of Rupert Murdoch’s children when they read the obituaries of New York Times owner Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, whose father thought him too stupid to run the company. Particularly when they came to the line: “It’s impossible to be an assistant to your father.”
Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, is exiled to Australia after complaining his father wouldn’t let him do his job at News Corp. His daughter Elisabeth’s movie company, Shine, may be owned by News Corp, but she lives in London and keeps her interfering father at arm’s length. And after disappointing his old man by failing to smother the phone-hacking scandal at his British papers, James is scrabbling around at corporate headquarters on Sixth Avenue in New York, trying to make it work at his new job leading the company’s television interests – everything, that is, except his father’s “fair and balanced” baby, Fox News.
By David Callahan
The views expressed are his own.
The demise of the News of the World after a phone hacking scandal will not change a troubling truth about tabloid journalism – or business in general these days: Bad ethics can yield big financial rewards and such are the upsides of cheating that even honest professionals may feel they must bend the rules to compete.
Tabloid editors will surely think twice now before drawing on illegally obtained information. But other unethical practices – used by a range of print, broadcast, and online media businesses – will continue, like paying sources for dubious information (“cash for trash”) or fabricating juicy stories outright to boost circulation or ratings.
- Brian Cathcart is professor of journalism at Kingston University and was specialist adviser to the Select Committee inquiry. The opinions expressed are his own.-
One problem with the current debate about the BBC is that it is being held on too low a level, so the result is likely to be needless petty miseries.
-Padraig Reidy is news editor at Index on Censorship. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Mainstream consumer media is, it is agreed, in trouble. The idea of paying for one or two newspapers a day is now confined, it seems, to quaintly old-fashioned types who boast of their ignorance of the Internet, or business who actually need the information in the pages of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.
-Nicholas Jones is the author of Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs (Politico’s, 2006). He is a member of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. The opinions expressed are his own.-
When searching for news and checking facts reporters often have to bend the rules and possibly break the law. But through its purchase of confidential mobile phone messages the “News of the World” has blackened the reputation of British journalism.
Despite the report's obvious conclusion, it's worth reading for Puchalla's analysis of the cost structure that newspapers deal with. Here's an excerpt from the press release announcing the report:
from For the Record:
There’s nothing like a disease outbreak to highlight the value of the media in alerting and informing the public in the face of an emergency.