3 March 2011

Murdoch may have offered to let SkyNews go... so that's all right then... ?

As I suggested yesterday morning, it appears that Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Media etc., is going to announce on Thursday that Murdoch is to take full ownership of BSkyB.  Doubtless the announcement will be couched in the usual reverential, authoritative tones that might lead one to suspect that there couldn't possibly be something amiss... I gather that Murdoch will be casting Sky News aside...  so that's all right then ?  However, I've scribed often enough about Coulson, Murdoch and their cronies.  I think we knew the inevitable would happen despite many many serious attempts to stop Murdoch going one step further in gaining a stronger hold on the media in this country.  Many people and organisations have tried to fight him off including Tom Watson MP and Chris Bryant MP who have certainly asked for clarification and raised issues.  John Grogan, former MP, was I believe the first to raise the issue about Murdoch's influence.

The tory-led govt appeared to have decided that Ofcom's opinions were not worthy so it was hardly going to listen to Ofcom's opinion on Murdoch's desire to acquire BSkyB.  As well as Ofcom, other organisations are about to fold up eg The UK Film Council that funded The King's Speech - winner of several Oscars !  It appears that organisations that are able to provide a fair independent judgement or can enable great things to happen are about to cease...  unfair and mistaken ?

One article by Stephen Glover in The Independent recently gave me much food for thought http://is.gd/yf7QbK It starts by explaining the happenings surrounding Vince Cable's interview by two journalists posing as constituents.  The Telegraph printed the story.  But further revelations transpired when the earnest and individualistic Robert Peston wrote on his BBC blog that Cable had also said to them that 'he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch by referring his offer to buy out BSkyB to Ofcom'.

Yes, The Telegraph was embarrassed for several possible reasons referred to in the article. And what happened later appears to have been almost as big as what Cable had said about Murdoch's desired acquisition..  An investigative firm was brought into the newspaper to get to the bottom of who leaked the information to Robert Peston.  But Stephen Glover wrote something in that article that really stood out
''One can only conclude that very senior members of the newspaper's management were deeply embarrassed by Mr Peston's scoop. The culprit must be made to pay. My advice, not that they will take it, would be to cool it. This is only journalism, after all. The security of the State is not at stake. And there is no point in expecting journalists to behave with the sense of honour and discipline of the old Prussian officer class".  This is only journalism after all !

Those six words made me feel very uncomfortable. In effect they mean 'It's only a story...'   Stories have wrecked lives whether there is truth in them or not !  We see and hear time and time again, people being asked if there is any truth in what an article may have said about them, a close friend or member of their family.  And how often do we hear actors, singers, politicians say that they've given up reading what the newspapers say about them as it's invariably lies and that they don't even recognise themselves as the person named in the article?  How much truth is there in our newspapers ?   Graphic and very sad examples of how newspapers can influence people's lives by inaccuracy or exaggeration can be found in some of Diana Smith's articles on this blog. And how the information contained therein can be taken as gospel... and exalted!

Are we comfortable in how information is gathered for stories that appear in some of our newspapers ? We have learned that journalists pose as others to gain information... isn't that deception? We have certainly learned that journalists hack people's phones to gather information... isn't that illegal ?  We know too that information is sometimes leaked...  for what purpose... justice or payment ?   What else does it take to fill a column and sell a newspaper ?

Without doubt there is much serious journalism and we would be sorry to lose that aspect.  Pity then that more and more people are saying 'You can't believe what you read in the papers...'  Maybe less bias, solatiousness, exaggeration and inaccuracy might bring more rewards... and respect !