Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nick says "We are all Sun journalists now." Err - what ?

This post has been cross-posted at Harry's Place

Nick Cohen had a strange article in last Sunday's Observer, complaining that the British press is now under terrible pressure:
Rhodri Phillips was the 21st journalist arrested as part of the Elveden bribes enquiry. If it had happened in Russia, Iran or an African dictatorship, readers of the Observer would know what to expect. Amnesty International and Index on Censorship would scream their heads off about the need for a free press to scrutinise power. Intellectuals would send a round robin to the liberal press. There would be questions in Parliament, perhaps a Radio 4 documentary.
Hold on. Just because journalists are being arrested does not mean those arrests are not justified, indeed today we have found 8 out of 13 NI journos in the Glenn Mulcaire case have been charged with a variety of phone hacking charges. Also, arresting people for hacking celebrities phones where there is no public interest defence is very unlike arresting them for threatening political or corporate vested interests, which is what proper investigative journalists should be doing.

Nick also complains :
Detectives are not now targeting phone-hackers, whom even liberal countries would arrest. They are punishing journalists for doing what they have always done – talking to cops, standing a round, pumping officials for information.
Is that really what is being targeted ? Yesterday we had more info from Sue Akers about what is being alleged in another case involving the Mirror and Express as well as NI :
Two officers at high-security prisons allegedly took illegal payments from Mirror, Express and News International journalists, a senior police officer has told the Leveson Inquiry.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said one officer had allegedly received £35,000.

But she said stories possibly linked to the payments revealed "very limited material of genuine public interest".

Trinity Mirror said it was co-operating with the police on the matter.
This is the kind of thing that is being investigated at long last, and as is continually being repeated at Leveson it is tabloid practices and crimes with no public interest defence that is the area that requires inquiry and that the police are targeting.

Nick I'm sure understandably has a lot of fellow felling for tabloid journos who he sees as colleagues, however surely it is time that the quality press started realising that the contemptible prurient and intrusive practices of the tabloids are not something that any journalist should be proud of and that the public really has had enough of it.

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