This apperared in the Bath Chronicle on May 3 in the middle of the Leveson inquiry. It provoked at least one hostile letter...
Ladies and gentlemen here is the news. And it is all about the news.
For, yes, once more all week we have all been bombarded with stories, interviews and debate about the press, Rupert Murdoch, phone hacking and the role that newspapers play in this country.
And, despite the fact that this is my industry and one I have been proud to serve for nearly 30 years, I am sick to death of all this coverage and can’t help wondering just what the millions of people who aren’t remotely connected to the media industry make of it all.
For this is the media eating itself.
And it is not a pretty sight.
Now don’t get me wrong. What the News Of The World did in terms of phone hacking was a terrible thing but it was something that bore no relation to the honest, integrity-led journalism produced by the vast majority of our newspapers nationally and (even more so) locally.
That paper simply went far too far and adopted a ‘get-the-story-at-all- costs’ policy that was probably inevitably going to lead to a dramatic fall at one point. But I doubt if any of us could imagine just how big that fall would be for the paper that paid the ultimate price. And let us not forget the closure of the News Of The World was a self-imposed act at the end of a sensational turn of events.
As a result of all that it was only proper that a serious debate about ethics and journalism should follow and I for one felt that was the right thing to do.
However, the relentless day-to-day coverage of that debate ever since smacks of serious overkill.
So many important things have happened in the world in recent days but many issues are being drowned by some media outlets poring over every word and every nuance of everyone involved in the current media inquiries to try and bring newspaper people (and the odd Government minister) down.
Sometimes it just looks like media luvvies relishing the chance to comment about the thing they ‘luv’ the most – themselves, the media.
All of this newspaper-bashing is in serious danger of making us all feel (wrongly) that the free, written press we should all cherish is rotten from top to bottom.
Newspapers – especially local ones – are still a force for good in my opinion. We fight for our communities, reflect the cheers (as well as the tears) of our communities and provide a forum for debate and comment, all in (for local papers at least) a totally non-partisan independent context.
But I fear we are all in danger of forgetting that due to the wider media’s OTT, self-indulgent obsession with all things Murdoch.
Some politicians would love nothing better than to strangle press freedom as a belated revenge for the MPs expenses scandal being (brilliantly) exposed by The Daily Telegraph. The media itself is playing into their hands. And boring us all silly at the same time.