The Hope For British Newspapers

The News of the World, a newspaper with over 2.5m readers, has been part of the British way of life throughout its lifespan.  It has brought sleaze, titillation, filth and above all scandal to our Sunday mornings.  For almost a 150 years it has brought sleaze, scandal and outrage to people’s Sunday breakfast, but, as of the 10th of July 2011 the newspaper will end its publication over the phone-hacking scandal that has seen its advertisers run for the hills like a donkey from a Chinese abattoir.

The newspaper will see its doors close and its keys handed over to Scotland Yard who will begin to sift through all the databases and private emails, ledgers, documents and rubbish bins in the hope to bring to justice those who sort to illegally obtain information by listening to private voicemail messages.  From celebrities to members of the Royal Family, from victims of appalling crimes to soldiers of senseless wars. 

So the question is, where will people go now to get their fill of outrage.  Unlike America, which has the National Enquirer, a publication so bereft of facts and realism that it makes ‘Snow White’ look like the movie ‘Monster’ with Charlize Theron.  But in the UK a good percentage of people enjoy nothing more than reading about celebrities getting their fingers caught in another’s backside over their burnt toast.  Because while some of the facts were loosely fitted together at the best of times, we knew deep down that the stories did have some original content and more importantly, the sots who were the subject of the allegations were always people that came low down on people’s lists of popular persons, such as any footballer and/or pedophiliac pop star; Pakistani cricketers or Prince Harry.  Publicly we would openly condone these stories, saying: ‘You’d never catch me reading such twaddle,’ yada, yada, yada!  But privately we all flicked through those pages like a heroin addict with a crispy £20.

It is suggested that the News of the World is as British as fish ‘n’ chips or damp summers. And its true the British do like a good gossip, it is part of the ‘over-the-fence’ housewife culture that followed after the Second World War, when neighbours needed to be vigilant against ‘the common enemy.’  It is just an evolutionary path, but unfortunately the lines between heresy gossip and going through another’s private phone messages to get information have now been so ruined that the whole newspaper industry will have to be almost remodelled to stop such outrageous practices in the future.

On the larger scale too this affects every newspaper, especially those under the Murdoch ‘News Corp’ blanket, because with the Internet and social websites gaining more and more readers through blogs and other postings, this sort of scandal reiterates their belief that the industry is in rapid decline, when in fact it needs to be as creditable as possible, by not dealing in rumours and claptrap, but in hardened concrete facts and doing so in a manner that fits with a legal practice that doesn’t infringe on the well-being of others.  The public needs to be informed in almost educational way that encourages people to make decisions based on facts and hardened truths and not exaggerations.  Journalism is of paramount importance to Britain as we have some of the greatest freedom of press laws in the world, but just because they have the freedom does not mean that they should be free to do as they please.  Any industry that affects and relies on the public needs to be governed and monitored fairly and lawfully, with any that do not hold up such high ethical values should be relieved of their duties.  Newspapers need the honesty of Sir David Attenborough, the credibility of Sir Michael Parkinson with the leadership of Sir Winston Churchill.

Newspapers are a priority to the British media.  I implore you go and buy a few today.

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