All posts tagged 'News-of-The-World'

Why hacking scandal is an achiles heel for Cameron

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, July 8 2011

When voters in Kent go to the polls in 2015 to elect a new government, will they be pausing in the ballot box to reflect on how the government handled the hacking scandal and David Cameron's choice of Andy Coulson as his press chief?

No, tof course they won't. The state of the economy, the health service, schools and the nation's general prospects will be far more important and the conclusions of a Judicial inquiry into the Press will not be foremost in voters' minds.

Nevertheless, our view of politicians is influenced as much by what we think about their personal judgements and character as it by how they have run the country.

Which is why David Cameron is, arguably for the first time, finding people wondering about his sureness of touch and why it matters how he is responding to the current hacking scandal.

You won't find many people who will now give him credit for appointing Andy Couslon and, if it turns out that he is charged and convicted, people will wonder even more about the decision.

Like Blair, Cameron has (notwithstanding his Eton background) sought to capitalise on the sense that he is a "regular guy" who "gets it" when it comes to how the public view the government and its actions in responding to the kind of everyday challenges and problems most of us have.

But he has been on the back foot for much of this week and his usual adroitness in identifying with the general climate of public opinion over an issue has deserted him. 

He is now discovering how easy it is for the public's trust and faith to be eroded. Trust and integrity are incredibly valuable commodities for any politician.

And for a leader, it can be fatal to appear to be more concerned about the vested interests of commercial conglomerates and big business than the man or woman struggling to get through a recession. He is fortunate that it has not only the Conservatives who have danced to Murdoch's tune over the years.

Cameron has time to recover lost ground. But the hacking scandal has exposed a vulnerability and lack of deftness in the PM that has wounded him and left a nasty scar.

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Categories: Politics

Remember: There is a wide gulf between the News of The World and regional news reporting

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Thursday, July 7 2011

The murky practices at the News of the World are bad news for the wider world of journalism.

Reporters are accustomed to being close to the bottom - if not bottom - of popularity polls, just above or below MPs and estate agents - but this dismal saga is pushing us further down.

Amid the calls for official inquiries into “the media” and media “ethics,” it should be remembered that there is a wide gulf between national tabloid journalism and regional news reporting.

Yet there is a danger that all journalists, whether national or local, are, by association, guilty of similar practices.

I would not have a clue how to hack into anyone’s phone, nor would I ever wish to. I just cannot imagine the regional press ever getting involved in such despicable behaviour.

But in all the vitriol heaped on NoW and News Corporation, it should also be remembered that the title has uncovered many stories that needed exposing, such as the betting scam involving Pakistani Test cricketers.

In the vicious world of tabloid competition, pressure is intense to produce exclusive after exclusive. The newspaper-buying public clamours for the next titillating or revelatory read.

And still buy the papers in their millions. But sadly, in the fevered world of journalism, these pressures appear to have persuaded harassed reporters - and probably executives - to lose moral compass.

The same goes for a few police officers who may benefit from alleged bungs. Few should be surprised. A steady stream of exclusives does not come from reading press releases.

The NoW scandal is revenge time for MPs who have been pilloried by the press, often justifiably, as in the case of expenses fraud. Competing titles are also rubbing their hands.

It’s all highly unsavoury. Murdoch is already in the dock. And there is surely no way his bid for full control of BSkyB can be approved in the present climate. But again, remember the positives.

Sky News is a valued addition to our media scene, providing a credible competitor to the BBC and, in many cases, doing things better. Cricket coverage has improved under Sky sponsorship. And The Times has been kept afloat by profits made elsewhere in the Murdoch empire.

But an over-dominant player poses risks to the overall media scene.

The UK has a lively media landscape, in many ways more interesting that say in France or the US. The public is generally well-served at national and regional level.

The despicable apparently systemic behaviour of individuals at a particular title - for which they will in time face prosecution - should be no reason for the public to proclaim “a plague on all your houses.”

Most journalists work honourably within the law and do their best to report news, expose local wrongdoing or uncover the secrets that officials would prefer to remain hidden from the public.

It is important to outlaw hacking and to crack down on the evils at NoW. Excessive practices elsewhere may also need curbing. But neither the victims nor the public would probably wish to see a fettered, frightened press emerging from any media inquiry and the backlash this scandal has unleashed.

If it does, we risk letting officialdom and bad business off the hook.

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