Why we still need the News of the Screws (rather than doped up bloodhounds)….

It has to be said that I don’t agree with our esteemed Welsh blogger Dewi.

Boycotting the News of the World or the Sun, or even these days The Times or Sunday Times is not an option for me personally, because I rarely read any of them (certainly not since Trevor Kavanagh departed as politic editor). Though declaring an interest, last year, for the first time, I did sell The London Times one analysis piece on the Iris Robinson story.

So, cards now sincerely dumped on the table, I have to agree with Michael White that not everything the Sun or the NOTW did or does is wrong, or socially regressive:

…the tabloids serve a useful purpose in exposing wrongdoing, sometimes in ways that hapless and high-minded broadsheets, let alone lofty broadcasters, wouldn’t know how to start.

I realise it’s annoying, but it’s true. Would the Financial Times, an admirable newspaper in so many ways, have been able to expose bookmaker-inspired corruption inside the Pakistani cricket team, as the Screws did? No, I don’t think so.

He goes on:

It’s clear that the News International culture – certainly at the Sun and the NoW – allowed some to ignore the law or assume they could break it with no public interest defence to justify their excesses.

I have to add here that some of my friends who work – or have worked – within the Murdoch empire say they are respectable in public, ruthless behind closed doors. Others report, evidently distressed, that most NoW staff really didn’t know what was going on.

Accountability is surely the key. If you can say “we cut corners to expose serious wrongdoing”, a court (or jury) may accept your defence as it will not if it is merely a footballer’s status as a “love rat”. But you have to be accountable.

That’s why I often say that of the two groups I know best – politicians and hacks – the pols are more honest, not because they are more noble but because they are much more accountable, both to voters and – of course – the media.

And:

…what we need: the law to be enforced and regulation of the media to be put on a tougher footing more comparable to the way other industries and professions are regulated. It’s pathetic of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to moan that it was lied to by the Murdochies. No, it was the PCC which deceived the PCC. Either it’s a real regulator or a mere mediator. It’s make-your-mind-up time.

That goes for police accountability too. The Met has long had a close relationship with the tabloids, especially the investigative heavies of the NoW. Sometimes that can be beneficial to the public as well as to both parties and the coppers who take pay-offs, sometimes via post-career columns in the Murdoch press, sometimes brown envelopes for lower ranks.

That must be the prime motive for soft-pedalling on the investigation of the NoW hacking files.

But if this row weakens the press rather than merely regulates its excesses, it will be a good day for the rich and powerful (including dodgy press barons) and a bad day for most of us. Just look across the Channel where the French press has long been a doped bloodhound asleep in its kennel.

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  • Indeed but most of the scandals exposed by red tops are of “popular” variety and Im not convinced that Cricketgate has elements that are popular as well as high minded.
    Exposures by serious newspapers are indeed more high minded.
    But an exposure of the way tabloids work would have been a high minded exposure if the serious newspapers had REALLY gone after it.
    As Mr White suggests journos are familiar with politicians and “hacks”. He believes that politicians are more honest but ……why is it that the serious newspapers have not exposed the wrong doings in the Media more thoroughly?.

    Answering my own question I suggest there is an aspect of misguided loyalty to their “own kind”. Or perhaps a thin end to the wedge that maybe just maybe …..some serious newspapers have cut a few legal corners…..and while it might not be of the “love rat X Factor” variety….the actual “crime” is the same.

    The best and as it turns out most prophetic commentry on this was actually eminent Sluggerite Mr Brian Walker in September last year entitled “Coulson Afafir Could Be Bad For Us All”.
    In this piece…..poorly commented on (just six comments…two from me) Mr Walker says journos
    “can have it both ways…seeking weaknesses in others”
    and that journalists
    “could wrap ths up”

    That was September. Since then we have drip drip revelation in January and April and the deluge this week.
    It could have been dealt with if enough public spirited journalists had written or spoken about it.
    Those that did were vilified.
    Now theres an unseemly rush to condemn the excesses.
    As Mr Walker said in September 2010
    this will have
    “unintended consequences for us all”

    It is not just the reputation of NOTW, News International and red tops which lies in the gutter.
    The reputation of Journalism itself could have been saved if enough had broken ranks with their peers.
    They didnt.

  • pippakin

    Although it was not exposed by a red top Thalidomide was exposed by real journalists working for a real newspaper who risked everything to publish and be damned in what became Murdoch epistle.

    Trevor Kavanagh was excellent and had a real grasp of his subject.

    Yes the red tops can be useful and yes they can expose crime and sleeze, and yes most of us get a laugh from seeing the filthy rich exposed.

    Its about subject and method, some things are and should remain unacceptable. It was bad enough when the Sun had an ‘exclusive’ interview with a ‘widow’ which turned out to be some dogsbody trailing round the office asking the girls ‘how they would feel if’… but to extend poor fiction to deliberately invading the privacy of the bereaved beyond the pale. This has gone too far it has damaged journalism.

  • michael-mcivor

    I try to read as much as i can daily- good bad or ugly
    Its a tough world – thats why there are secrets which are kept from our view and someone has to find them out-

    Is the news of the world and some others now going to be the dissident media-

  • Dewi

    Mick – this is different. Not only on what they did but the sense that they can do what they want. Scandalous scum.

  • Mick Fealty

    You’re playing the man there Dewi.

    It shouldn’t be let pass for sure. And if the police do their job, there’ll be a fair few wigs on the green before this is all over.

    Things have been let slip and good people have done nothing to stop it. A few more jail sentences and further up the food chain may make people care a little bit more about how a story is gathered.

    I want to see due process engaged. But…

    …if this row weakens the press rather than merely regulates its excesses, it will be a good day for the rich and powerful (including dodgy press barons) and a bad day for most of us. Just look across the Channel where the French press has long been a doped bloodhound asleep in its kennel.

    There they have all pretended to be shocked by sexual allegations levied in New York against Dominique Strauss-Khan. The prudish and brutal US legal system and rascality of its prurient media has been attacked when actually it emerges with considerable credit.

    Now that the court case is apparently crumbling France has fallen back into default mode. Half of the public want DSK to stand for president anyway, despite whatever the nature of his sexual encounter with a chambermaid turns out to be.

    When a Le Monde colleague explained Jacques (“five minutes including the shower”) Chirac’s predatory habits towards female journalists years ago, I replied: “Good God, that would never happen here.” “Of course not,” he replied. “It would be in the newspapers.”

    And then there is the People, the Mirror, the Star and the Observer… You can’t boycott them all, surely?

  • pippakin

    “And then there is the People, the Mirror, the Star and the Observer… You can’t boycott them all, surely?”

    No but it must be possible to make sure that there is a new regulatory body with real teeth.

    NI are standing by Ms Brooks, how does that make sense?

  • DC

    NOTW is toast.

  • Master McGrath

    What is of concern here is the elephant in the room that no one seems to notice.
    If Michael White is correct in his analysis and really only a few knew about the way the organisation ran then waht does that mean in terms of the ability to malevolently manipulate affairs and the cultural expectations of the entire population if Murdoch and NI is allowed to become the only game in town when it laps up BSkyB entirely?
    The future is not bright as this whole thing is being played out against a backdrop of allowing Murdoch his way so that the Sun stays Blue at the next election!!

  • Into the west

    close the whole thing down, no burial, no memorial

  • pippakin

    I’m beginning to wonder if this whole thing doesn’t look and feel like a hue and cry, especially the way the social media are on the case.

    I don’t ‘like’ Rupert Murdoch and I don’t ‘like’ News International. I don’t even like Ms Brooks doing her Nicole Kidman impression.

    I would actually feel more comfortable if The Mirror got dragged into this. I don’t know if they are involved, not at all, I just wonder if it might be fairer if they were.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Not a reader of Red tops, and not much apart from the locals to be honest, get my national/international news online. But have always regarded NoW as the lowest due to the numerous scandals over the years, am I right in saying they have come a cropper of the courts more than any other paper? If they are as bad of offenders as I believe then one less Red Top won’t be a big loss, and I hope Murdoch get a metaphorical bloody nose. However I don’t think it will have that big an effect on the rest long term, but it just might bring a odd demise that tiny bit closer.

    The one bigger issue that surely has to come now is a proper regulator, the pet PCC has to go and print media also brought under OFCOM or whoever.

  • lover not a fighter

    To cite Trevor Kavanagh as a reason for reading the the Sun’s political output is hardly a high recommendation.

    He was just another Murdock apparatchik and was probably an example that Murdocks later apparatchiks aped in the sincerest form of flattery.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Piers Morgan,you remember him ? Caught out faking photographs of brutality to prisoners in Iraq.

    S’funny…………I don’t seem to remember our Welsh Wizard calling for a boycott of Mirror Group newspapers ?

    ” scandalous scum ”

    Only when it suits,it seems.

  • Mac

    “Piers Morgan,you remember him ? Caught out faking photographs of brutality to prisoners in Iraq.”

    No, he published photos that were later shown to be fake, completely different thing than what you are accusing him off.
    Not that the troops would ever abuse prisoners or kick them to death mind you.

    ‘Faking’ is more along the lines of say…
    taking a university dissertation, passing it off as intelligence, parking armoured cars and tanks outside an airport to raise tension and then invading another country that you tell everyone has WMDs with the result of thousands and thousands of dead men, women and children.

    Wouldn’t you say?

  • Mark

    Piers Morgan at the Mirror was behind the secret photos of Diana working out at her local club …

    Now he’s taken over The Larry King show ….

  • Mac

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14052909
    Damn Heinz, you’ll be nose bleeding over this one.

  • HeinzGuderian

    ” he pulished photo’s that were later shown to be fake”.

    Your honour,I rest my case…………………..;-)

  • Mac

    “Your honour,I rest my case…………………..;-)”

    ‘Smileys as a replacement for a point’ aside, you do understand the difference yeah?
    Or can we apply that same crazy logic to Murdoch and say that as he paid over half a million for the fake Hitler Diaries to be published in a newspaper he just bought, he was ‘caught out faking diaries of a brutal man’?
    Or would the judge who you are resting your case in front of, tell you to go back to some sort of primary schooling where you might learn the difference between the act of ‘faking something’ where you obviously have full knowledge and publishing something that is later revealed to be fake?

    Does that make the distinction any clearer?

  • nightrider

    Cameron’s speech in Parliament was excellent. He spelt out the appalling nature of the allegations and promised action. Milliband was pathetic. We’re witnessing the chrysalis of one of our greatest ever PM’s here.

  • DC

    Heinz Guderian wouldn’t see Hitler as a brutal man, seeing as Hitler paid out 250,000 RM on old Heinz’s 65th birthday, isn’t that right HG?

    ‘Black Marks: Hitler’s Bribery of his Senior Officers’

    http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a065.htm

    NOTW and Hitler seem to have one thing in common.

  • DC

    From the above article:

    Secondly, the study of modem corruption has a slippery nature due to the many things that are left unspoken (and unwritten) between the participants in corrupt transactions. This problem, of course, is not intrinsic to Nazi Germany alone.

    You’re not far wrong there!

  • HeinzGuderian

    Play the ball DC,and leave your childish little jibes in the playground,huh !! 😉

  • HeinzGuderian

    Sorry if Piers is your pin up boy Mac……………..but there you go.
    As pure as the driven snow,our Piers………………………that’s why he resigned as editor of the Mirror. A paper,and group of newspapers,I’m sure you now boycott ?
    Am I right sir ? Am I right ?? 😉

  • Mac

    “Sorry if Piers is your pin up boy Mac……………..but there you go.
    As pure as the driven snow,our Piers………………………that’s why he resigned as editor of the Mirror. A paper,and group of newspapers,I’m sure you now boycott ?
    Am I right sir ? Am I right ?? ”

    Piers Morgan cultivated the style of invasive celebrity obsessed tittle-tattle journalism whilst working at the Sun and later the Mirror that has lead to the current situation.
    You seem to have the same sort of difficulty differentiating between someone explaining to you when you’re wrong (when you’re wrong) in what you are acussing someone of and that person supporting the target of your accusations, as you do understanding the difference I’ve grown tired explaining to you in my last few posts.

  • NEWS OF THE WORLD AXED.
    Last edition on Sunday

  • pippakin

    I’m actually saddened that the NOTW has been brought to this by the predatory and immoral actions of senior executives. It should not however be a reason to wind the investigations down or for Ms Brooks to keep her job.

    The PCC needs to be given real teeth and the running of it must be taken away from the print media.

  • DC

    Did I get yellow carded for the comments above?

  • DC

    Watching the news now – it’s fantastic stuff. So so glad to see the back of that paper.

    Hopefully Tommy Sheridan can now be released.

  • pippakin

    There has been a News of the World for more than 150 years, talk about don’t shoot the messenger…

  • DC

    Sure it was all sex and poisonous stories arising out of people privacy being completely invaded – it wasn’t news.

    News International is suffering akin to the banking industry – the froup was too big to fail, there were too many other newspapers associated with News Corp, NOTW was going to run the whole lot.

    And the whole lot – those other brands – simply just couldn’t fail.

    So, NOTW was collapsed. Simples.

    Just goes to show Murdoch owns too much of the national media.

  • DC

    sorry there a few typos above – but hopefully you get the jist.

    NOTW was going to ruin the other brands – the Times esp must’ve been concerned with all of this.

    Apparently there are more serious claims of computer hacking and other serious breaches of people’s privacy to follow.

  • pippakin

    News International is one thing the News of the World is another. To think that getting rid of NOTW does anything more than save NI money is naive.

    In addition its people who make a paper and the most senior of those people are not only not losing their jobs they will effectively be in charge of any replacement paper, and Sky should the takeover go ahead.

  • nightrider

    ‘The Sunday Sun’ was lodged as a company by the Registries Office 2 days ago.
    Make of that what you will.

  • nightrider
  • DC

    In addition its people who make a paper and the most senior of those people are not only not losing their jobs they will effectively be in charge of any replacement paper, and Sky should the takeover go ahead.

    Hey this is News International’s Herald of Free Enterprise moment – after that ferry left Dover with its bow doors opened and capsized – the Townsend Thoresen logos didn’t last long on the rest of the fleet – those other ferries were soon bought and taken over by P&O.

  • Damian O’Loan

    What about these chaps:

    http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/

    Can they survive where NotW failed?

  • DC

    Murdoch’s clever – but perhaps too clever this time – the Sunday Sun on the same day his toxic NOTW paper is collapsed.

    Just too cute me thinks.

  • nightrider

    It’s going to be ‘The Sun on Sunday, as SundaySun is owned by TrinityMirror group. The Telegraph article linked gives the background.
    Too big a market to be left unplugged and I’d say the launch of the ‘toxic free’ paper has already been factored.
    No Rebekkah though, perhaps her and Andy Coulson could take over on ‘Daybreak’?

  • nightrider

    The 1st paragraph gives the game away:

    On July 5, as the scandal over phone hacking at News of the World, was gathering momentum, the domain name http://www.sunonsunday.co.uk was bought by an unknown company and registered.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I find it abhorrent that someone can gloat over the loss of 200 jobs ?
    I don’t believe anyone ever forced anyone else to buy the News of the World ? But then again,what did people think would happen when they called for a boycott in the first place ?

    mac,you’ve had this thread to Iraq and back. Moaning about weapons of mass destruction. Explain to the Northern Kurds about WMD’s mac. Explain it to the Marsh Arabs mac.

    I take THE Times on a sunday. Not the London Times,not the irish Times,not even the New York Times,but THE Times !!

    I raise my glass in Remy Martin,in commiseration to the journalists on the News of the World. Victims of a witch hunt.

  • DC

    Heinz – your head’s cut – ‘victims of a witch hunt’.

  • andnowwhat

    This topic and the one on Mc Causland/NIHE show that multiple threads on a topic are a problem.

    IMHO, unless there is something dramatically new, a new blog/thread is only an issue of the initial blogger’s ego

  • andnowwhat

    Heinz;

    You are aware that NOTW staff angered that 200 jobs have been sacrificed to save Rebekah Brooks?

    Take it up with Jame Murdoch

  • Mac

    “mac,you’ve had this thread to Iraq and back.”

    Heinz old bean, do you ever think that it’s a bit silly to accuse others of having a thread to Iraq and back when it was you that first introduced Iraq into the discussion?
    Just another example of this disconnect you have between fact and fiction?