Friday, 8 July 2011

Going Down - a newspaper sinks with (almost) all hands


Extraordinary scenes in London this week as one of the most profitable newspapers in Britain has the plug pulled after revelations of a systemic culture of corruption, political skullduggery, police bribery and phone hacking.  Now we know how they got all those stories about footballer's fancies and politicians' peccadilloes.  The sight of white-faced journalists (with families and mortgages) having to pack their things and leave the office after only two days notice is sobering.  Many of them weren't even employed during the crucial period, or were too junior to have been involved.

Unfortunately the captain of the ship and the chief engineer seem to be almost the only members of staff to get a lifeboat.  Doesn't seem fair.

The News of the World crash is going to change things.  My guess is that it's the end of the line for the extreme power that the media has exercised for the past several decades unchecked.   The Prime Minister has already called in the men in dark suits to reform the Press Complaints Commission and  we don't yet know how far the reforms will go.  When politicians start tinkering with press freedom, one can't help but get a little anxious.  But the current situation  - where newspapers can operate above the law with owners too powerful to be called to account - is untenable.

I know people who feel so strongly about the Murdoch empire they won't have anything to do with literary events sponsored by them - I was given a very uncomfortable time when I agreed to do a creative writing workshop for the Sky Arts programme recently.   I was very torn - but there isn't a lot of employment for authors and you sometimes find yourself at literature festivals with sponsors you don't necessarily approve of.  After the revelations of this week, my reply to the invitation might have been different. 

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm, interesting post. I agree, very sobering. Best of luck to the innocents, and I hope we can all learn something from whats happening.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

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  2. Murdoch on the move again. Wow! It's a repetition of the trajectory of our times: The Man does the crime, but the plebs do the time.

    It used to be charity was something we were enjoined to bestow upon the poor. Not anymore. Today, it's the super-rich [ie, those considered too big to fail] who get the handouts. Corporate wellfare is alive and well in the West.

    Ireland has been wrestled to perdition by its inbred gang of obese oligarchs. In England the poor are now dumped out onto the street to pave the way for Mr. Murdoch's patriation to sweatshop central ... where ... China next?

    Phew!

    John

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