This letter was printed in the Evening Standard on Friday 8 July, under the headline ‘Ending the rabid red-top culture’.
‘An unethical, vicious culture has grown up around a particular brand of journalism’
FAR from drawing a line under anything, the News of the World’s closure opens another range of issues. There are lots of journalists I like who have worked on the paper, but there has obviously been an endemic culture of obtaining information by illegal means. For Rupert Murdoch merely to relaunch the NoTW under the banner of a seven-day-a-week Sun is laughable.
He won’t want to let go of the formula of the country’s most successful Sunday title. The efforts made to hang on to Rebekah Brooks, while letting go 200 NoTW journalists, indicate an extraordinary amorality. Brooks, as editor at the time of the alleged Millie Dowler hacking, should surely have insisted on carrying out her intention to resign and pressure should be kept up on the organisation until she goes.
An unethical, vicious culture has grown up around a particular brand of journalism. The Press Complaints Commission has been toothless for years and it is not in the press’s interest to police its members’ behaviour properly. Professional codes of conduct are far too lax. I believe there is a case for statutory regulation, while protecting press freedom within that. It’s not so much about journalistic censorship, but censoring the worst excesses of behaviour (there’s an equivalent problem to be tackled in the police of a culture of taking money for information). At the very least, a decision on Sky’s ownership should be put on ice, until the Murdoch media shows it has commitment to the decent values of British people.
Cllr Mark Bennett