We still need the press!

With the fate of much of the mainstream media in the melting pot, I offer this encomium from Simon Jenkins.
“As for the antics of the press, victim of Speaker Martin’s wrath, I cannot see what the Telegraph has done wrong. It presumably paid for material that had been stolen and which it has published. It thus offends the rule against profiting from crime. But a more glaring public interest defence cannot be imagined. Publication was the only way to reveal a systematic fraud on the public accounts, whose perpetrators had already shown they were determined to use the courts to suppress it. Those who chant the obituary of the “mainstream media” might care to cite any electronic organisation able to put together such an investigation. Like the Guardian’s recent disclosure of corporate tax avoidance, this work requires staff and resources. When the BBC tried to reveal the truth about the Iraq war dossiers, its cowering chairman and director general were driven by a mere Downing Street press officer into resignation.

Crude, unfair, bolshie, whatever, the old-fashioned newspaper is still ­desperately needed to keep democracy on its toes. God forbid that it should ever cease.”

A Lib Dem footnote about the Bangor boy who actually managed to miss a crucial deadline to claim for a new TV. “NOT ALLOWED (purchased during dissolution)”

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

  • Neil

    I can’t help but note the relevance of the Breen case. If sources of information can be legally forced from a journalist, then sources will be deterred from passing on information. Stories like this would only be broken when either the journo or the source are prepared to go to prison. It’s necessary to keep the government, (and other bodies, in NI the PSNI springs to mind) in line. Think of all the stories broken about the PSNI. Would they have been broken if the PSNI were able to force the sources of such information out?

  • sj1

    I’m sure the public are behind the guardian, I for one, salute what they did. Theres no substitute for good investigative journalism.

  • sj1

    Sorry telegraph…. I was reading the guardian…

  • “A Lib Dem footnote about the Bangor boy”

    You cheeky big girl’s blouse 😉

  • “Crude, unfair, bolshie, whatever, the old-fashioned newspaper is still ­desperately needed to keep democracy on its toes.”

    This new-fangled blog has adopted a similar approach – at times 🙂

  • “Theres no substitute for good investigative journalism.”

    “Where have all the ijs gone

    Gone to .. everyone”

  • Good impartial work by the Telegraph.

    So today we have the Lib Dems following Labour and the Conservatives (and SF) in the limelight. Leaves us now with the various regional parties for them to have a look at…either they’re squeeky clean or its squeeky bum time, I know which option my money’s on.

  • oneill, are you aware of any councillors, especially multi-tasking ones, claiming loss of earnings whilst on council business/junkets?

  • Nevin
    Nope, I didn’t- it wasn’t on either of my tellys…(cryptic one there perhaps;))

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Yes, well done to the Telegraph, though I’d hesitate over calling it an ‘investigation’ as such. The end of the week will be most interesting for our local parties…

  • Driftwood
  • I must say that I am a bit less cheered by this than others.

    The British state has a systematic fraud by its elected representatives, and it takes a criminal act to finally start exposing it?

    Where were all the reporters – the Mike Whites, the Simon Hoggarts, etc. – when all this was going on? Didn’t they get at all suspicious about many MPs constantly changing their official residences so often, fixing them up in all kinds of expensive ways, moving back and forth while properties were being sold at increasing profits, etc., ad nauseam?

    Instead the parliamentary reporters gave us the day’s tittle-tattle almost without exception.

    The only good thing to say about the press in this matter is that The Telegraph was willing to risk considerable losses by paying for the leaked report.

    But then, no one would see any financial advantage in going after a real, poor hack, like me, who simply got the story, and put it on some site on the internet.

    In sum, the scandal is really as much the media’s fault as anyone else’s. It should always have put some alarm in MPs taking personal advantage of the Public Purse.