Do journalists’ arrests mark the end of the British scandal sheet?

Phillip Stevens nails a few things in the FT. And it picks up some themes from Blair Jenkins point that the transparency principle applies not just to politicians, but journalists too:

By the time the myriad investigations end quite a few journalists may have gone to jail. The process will raise justified concerns about press freedom. For all their flaws, Britain’s rumbustious newspapers are a vital check and balance on the abuse of power. The big challenge, however, does not lie in the prosecution of those who hacked phones or paid bribes. The British media are being throttled by a draconian libel law designed to protect the rich and powerful. State regulation would tighten the noose. The economics of the digital age meanwhile conspire against expensive investigative journalism.

As for Mr Murdoch, the game is up. Investigators at The Sun are talking about “serious suspected criminality over a sustained period”. The swashbuckling style of News International was rooted in an age when proprietors told politicians what to do, journalists did what they liked, and police officers were on cash retainers. Those days have passed. So has Mr Murdoch’s dominion. This need not mean the end of a free press.

It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the innovating effect of Mrudoch’s arrival in Fleet Street. He primped up the tabloid, killed off the print unions and helped lead the Newspaper industry into the digital age… But it is the transparency of the digital age that has also killed off several of his golden geese…

Ah well, we still have Guido

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