Journalists are a principled bunch aren’t they. No? Stop laughing. Come on now – it’s not a joke. Journalism is truly an altruistic and noble profession.
It’s like once upon a time when society was created god… Or the first king of society or whoever… Said “let there be three professions who can go forth and smugly boast of how governed they are by principles n’ting”
The first was doctors and their Hippocratic oath thing about saving life. The second was lawyers and the whole pursuit of justice and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mantra. The third was journalists with their pursuit of the truth and all that cool stuff like going to prison to protect their sources. It seems estate agents, stock brokers, marketing types and the rest of us scum were fine without principles.
That’s how it feels anyway. You can’t meet a doctor/lawyer/journo who doesn’t prattle in at some point about the higher guiding principles of their profession. Like god-anointed prophets, they work for a higher power. I guess it must be pretty powerful for a doctor to save a life. Or a lawyer prove a condemned persons innocence. Or even a journo to uncover a massive conspiracy.
Yeah. That’s great. But actually doctors spend most of their time prescribing drugs for work-shy hypochondriacs. Lawyers are there cashing in on minor bureaucratic shizzle like house moves and wills and whatever. Journos? Well they read and reproduce press releases and celebrity tweets innit!!!
Actually. It seems journos do a bit more than that. If the headlines of the last few days (years?) are to believed it seems that these white knights of the press looking after our public interests decided to go all Watergate and live up to their nickname by hacking the phones of a bunch of people. Nice principles there.
The thing is I’d pretend to be surprised but how can I be? Forget principles – the news has no principle except to get the story it wants. Look at all the big scoops you hear about! Secret filming of elaborate stings and honey-traps? Dodgy leaked material? Bribed insider sources? Forget phone hacking. They’d go through someone’s bins if they thought it would get them a break. Well the do don’t they… so even the lowest thing imaginable is standard practice for the press. And we’re not just talking the tabloids here… The secret filming of Vince Cable and the MP expenses leaks came through the Telegraph and I’d not be surprised if the whole world of the press and media had whole reams of ill-gotten stories published or just sitting in reserve waiting for the right time. Someone working for a paper once told me they had whole cabinets of stories they’d gotten from one means or another but never been able to publish for legal reasons.
No. Hacking is no surprise. Hell. I’d even go for a bit of phone hacking if it was for a burning story. If someone broke the whole illuminati, aliens, area 51, Kennedy and King assassinations, secret reasons for invadiny Iraq etc with a bit of phone hacking then the world would have nothing but gratitude. It would be less appalling to hack in pursuit of ‘the truth’ if the resulting story blew the lid off the world and made collective jaws drop so hard that they measured on the richter scale?!?
But when ‘the truth’ is some story about Sienna Miller and her stepmum, or sky sports sexist Andy Gray, or a bunch of publicists and agents most people have never even heard of, then it’s just a bad joke isn’t it. The rest of the press is having a field day, sitting on the same high horse they always sit on when one among them crosses the line. Suddenly the issue is about the ethics of their actions. But what about the banality of them???? What about the fact that they weren’t hacking phones to find a big story. They were doing it as a matter of course for a bit of gossip here or some news there or a bit of dirt on a few celebrities. That, for me, is what makes the whole affair sordid and pathetic.
I’m so unsurprised or bothered about phone hacking that I’ve focussed my attentions elsewhere. Japan, Cote D’Ivoire, Libya, Syria… You know, places where real things have been happening rather than some frenzy over confirmation of an already-old story. But the fact that members of the press have been utilising observation techniques that were once the preserve of national government just so they can keep up with the gossip is god awfully depressing. Next time you get some journalist, any journalist, giving it large about how altruistic their profession is then just remember. These are the people who phonehacked Siena Miller’s stepmum. It might make even a lowly estate agent feel a bit better about themselves.