Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The media squirms

How wonderful to see the media on the defensive for a change, forced to admit their sadistic and illegal hounding of anyone they don't like the look of or who isn't "normal" enough. Or just happens to be a celebrity.

For years they've been able to get away with their relentless bullying, lying and smearing not only through the usual journalistic methods but through phone-hacking, the use of private detectives, searching people's refuse and permanently watching their homes.

They've got away with it because usually the victims don't have the time or energy to pursue complaints, because they're afraid of prompting even worse treatment, or because the damage has already been done.

Now however, with the start of the Leveson Inquiry into UK press standards, the spotlight is being shone firmly onto the media's behaviour, one appalling revelation after another is coming to light, and the media instigators are squirming with embarrassment and furious that all of a sudden they aren't calling the shots.

Hugh Grant said the only way certain information about his relationships with women could have been known (like the woman with the "plummy" voice) was through the Mail on Sunday hacking into his mobile phone.

Now Steve Coogan has explained how the Sun and the News of the World tried to trick him into revealing "lurid" details of his sexual relationships, and how reporters and photographers beseiged his home, searched his rubbish bins, blamed him for an actor friend's overdose and offered his friends cash for juicy stories.

A whole string of high-profile witnesses is lined up to give a barrage of damning evidence against the media, to the daily chagrin of the usually unrestrained hacks, who are feebly requesting their "right to reply".

After it has finished hearing evidence, the Leveson Inquiry is expected to come up with some radical and far-reaching measures for muzzling the media's increasingly intrusive behaviour.

The Press Complaints Commission, which is meant to regulate the press, has been endlessly criticised as toothless and ineffectual, frequently watering down complaints or making excuses for the media. Time and again victims have had to do the job themselves, taking legal action or demanding retractions.

It's sheer delight to see the media cringing for a change instead of their hapless targets. They might just begin to understand the misery they so casually inflict on others.

Pic: Steve Coogan at the Leveson Inquiry

27 comments:

John Gray said...

have alook at the latest news headlines!!!

Scarlet Blue said...

The hacking of Millie Dowler's mobile phone so disgusts me I can't even comment on it. The hacker cleared the messages on Millie's answerphone thereby giving Millie's mother fresh hope that her daughter was still alive.
Dispicable behaviour. How can the person responsible for this live with himself?
Sx

Nick said...

John - What, the evidence from Kate and Gerry McCann? I look forward to reading it all. More shocking revelations, no doubt.

Nick said...

Scarlet - The hacking of Millie Dowler's phone was the one thing that got the public really incensed about phone-hacking. The cynical pursuit of profit and indifference to family grief really got up people's nostrils.

Scarlet Blue said...

Oh, it did more than get up my nostrils.
When I saw Mrs Dowler giving evidence the other day, I had tears in my eyes for her.
I also feel very sorry for the poor woman who worked for Elle Macphearson.
These hackers have ruined lives and reputations... and for what? To sell a few papers... for a bit of titilation.
I rarely buy newspapers anymore.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - I know, it was sickening. Particularly the fact that Milly's parents thought she was still alive because her phone had been used. And the way Ellie McPherson was tricked into discrediting and sacking Mary-Ellen Field was just as disgusting. Personally I read the Independent - still a fairly sensible paper.

Grannymar said...

No matter how much they investigate, they can never undo the damage they have already done to so many lives.

e said...

There is no end to such nastiness--anything for a story...These events should also point out that the privacy the general public thinks it has can be destroyed at will by almost anyone.

Baino said...

Again Nick, I suspect you're preaching to the converted, it's despicable to use such tactics under the pretext of 'news'. I hope the offenders are brought to Justice. I suspect it's the tabloids and largely Murdoch press at fault. I also wonder which comes first, the reader or the story. Would newspapers really sell without such gossip? I would like to think so since I have grave reservations about introducing legislation that might hinder freedom of the press. Sadly in trying to prevent the papparazzi we might also stifle legitimate news.

Young at Heart said...

and clearly this is just the tip.......!!

nursemyra said...

I stopped buying magazines after Princess Diana died. I buy the occasional newspaper when I've run out of recycled paper to line my birds' cage. Sydney's papers are mainly doom, gloom and sport anyway.

blackwatertown said...

The Mary Ellen Field story was just awful - there's no doubt journalists have been despicable - nor that the PCC was worse than rubbish.
However...
It's gonna be difficult to frame a law that prevents all the "bad stuff" (and bad much of it certainly is) without also hampering the "good stuff" - exposures of covered-up drug side-effects, contamination of water, planning zoning corruption and all sorts of dodginess.
On a side-note - it's far from true that it's just been the red tops indulging in this behaviour. Far from it.

Nick said...

Grannymar - True. Even the good things the media do are outweighed by all the distress they cause.

e - Also true. Privacy can be shattered very quickly by a few ruthless journalists determined to make your life a nightmare.

Nick said...

Baino - Oh, I think the story comes first because the journalists think the juicier the story the more readers they'll get. I think legislation is necessary. Some celebs have used privacy laws to keep the hacks and paparazzi away, which has normalised their lives without preventing serious reporting.

Young at Heart - It is indeed. There must be plenty of equally outrageous incidents that nobody ever hears about.

Nick said...

Myra - Lining bird cages is about all some papers are fit for.

Blackwater - There has to be a way of framing legislation that gets rid of the abuses while protecting serious reporting. The only alternative is to let the abuses get worse.

You're right, some of the "responsible" papers can be just as offensive. Their favourite trick is to reprint intrusive tabloid stories on the basis that "the story is news".

Wisewebwoman said...

The millions of readers who devour this stuff is what sickens me more than anything, the media wouldn't be stooping so low without them to bolster the bottom line.
Christians and lions and Madame Lafarge. We are barbaric.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - I don't understand those people who must be fully aware that half the stories in certain papers are intrusive and/or fabricated, and have no conceivable public interest, but still read them.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It is indeed long overdue to hold these vampires accountable for the destruction they cause. I hope they are punished to the full extent of the law.

Nick said...

Heart - Vampires indeed. The trouble is that (a) the existing laws aren't tough enough and (b) they're not enforced, like the laws on harassment and threatening behaviour.

Rummuser said...

In India too, there is a great upheaval and this is one of the outcomes. Other major debates are raging on the freedom of the media and an over active judiciary. I too am watching the fun and thoroughly enjoying them squirm.

Nick said...

Ramana - Interesting story. Yes, Times Now screened an apology for defaming the judge by connecting him with a financial scam, but the fact remains that he was defamed and should also get damages for defamation.

blackwatertown said...

heartinsanfrancisco - vampires - good image - harmful yet co-dependant.

Nick said...

Blackwater - I'm surprised nobody's made a horror film based on the paparazzi. Including a Psycho-style shower scene where a leering paparazzo with a huge camera bursts through the shower curtain.

secret agent woman said...

God, I'm glad to hear it. I generally go to great lengths to avoid celebrity "news."

Nick said...

Secret Agent - Celebrity "news" generally means celebrity gossip, tittle-tattle and trivia of no consequence to anybody on earth.

Macy said...

Some newspapers are ominously quiet on the whole issue though.
And I don't mean the Murdoch ones.

Nick said...

Macy - I hadn't noticed that. There's plenty of coverage in the one I usually read, the Independent. But I notice the journalists are making little attempt to justify their obviously disgusting behaviour.