In spite of the fact that all newspapers overstep the mark and attack the privacy of the innocent in a manner that works to their advantage. And therein lies the paradox. When this whole issue is over, the media will revert to its old ways.
The pubic want them to. The pubic pays them money to behave in this manner. Many an investigative journalist will resort to phone hacking in pursuit of a story, in much the same way as a bank robber risks his freedom to get his snout in the vault. Bank robbers have been doing porridge since time immemorial and it doesn’t stop them. As technology advances, a new wave of even more obtrusive gadgets will emerge to assist the tabloid journalist in the pursuit of gossip. In this role, the media is merely holding up a mirror to the public’s sordid fascinations but if we didn’t keep paying them for it, they wouldn’t keep doing it.
If such journalists are caught in the act, then they should be punished and their victims should be compensated but we should not delude ourselves for one moment that aggressive journalism can be stopped. In this – a free society – press intrusion is a problem that we have to manage rather than solve.
Even our elected officials are in on it now. In the last few weeks, a group of elected politicians decided that it was acceptable to give instructions to privately owned media organisations on who should and should not be running a newspaper.
The precedent appears to have been ignored. At times the phenomenon of Murdoch envy became so extreme that at times, it began to resemble the personal abuse dished out to Jeffery Archer in the 1980s. Then, as now, this relentless stream of abuse had no impact on sales. Archer remained an immensely successful novelist whilst sales of the Sunday Times continue to dwarf many of their rivals.
Having failed to defeat Murdoch in the market place by competitive journalism, the non Murdoch press has found solace in the British Government. They should not. Writers who look to courts to remove Murdoch from their own line up should look elsewhere.
They should look into their own souls and they should look at their own computer screens and they should write something better.
* Steven Curtis is a freelance writer.