Few involved (including journalists, politicians, the public) seem to be talking about the fact that the stories that this hacking relates to are also the stories that the public were interested in and that generated huge circulation that ended up with the NOTW being the single biggest publication in the the UK? We’ve been willing to accept the facts reported by ‘sources close to’ for years. We joke about the lies that we see tabloids print, we revel in the story and at worst, we dismiss them as lovable rogues who provide us with entertainment. The idea that a gross misuse of trust perpetrated against a celebrity is any less gross when against a normal member of the public is at the heart of the problem. Had the police, the politicians and the media; driven by a strong public demand, investigated this issue properly; the information about the hacking of murder victims families phones surely would have come about earlier. It is five years since this became a public story.
At the end of the day the problem is with us. If our morals and priorities were so well-tuned, there wouldn’t be any need for stories about Ashley Coles love life, Jade Goody’s minute-by minute death-watch, Prince Williams sprained ankle etc etc; then the papers wouldn’t go to that effort to fulfill our need for sensation. If we had the sense to realise that some things really aren’t news and are a waste of time for most of us, there would be no desire by the press to print it.
It is no surprise that the ‘ugliest’ of the Sunday tabs is also the one with the highest circulation. Unless we as consumers accept our own fault in this whole hideousness, there will still be a demand for hot stories and there will still be journalists and organisations who will push the limits to be the one to give it to us first and in more depth.
My prediction: The circulation of the other Sunday tabs will rise in accordance with the drop in sales at the News of the World. At least until a mysterious new Sunday weekly call ‘ The Lay of the Land’ comes out.
The saddest thing is that the message that will go out to all the hacks who have been hacking phones and bribing police on behalf of other tabloids is ” carry on for celebrities, steer clear of anyone that public will be outraged about’
I’ll continue to buy my favourite Sunday paper, the Times; a paper considered by many to be the epitome of journalistic integrity and quality. It is also run by the same ( and by no means morally defensible ) folks at NewsCorp.
Although I have rarely paid for the NOTW while sober, I will admit to enjoying their many scoops and revelations by proxy. They are bybno means without blame, but if we realy want things to change, then everyone involved needs to think about where they really stand and what matters to them, and then act accordingly.
The power of public outrage can be just as destructive as the worst activities of the press, but is never addressed, no matter how hypocritical or misguided that outrage is.