Journalists are suddenly as vilified as politicians. This is not an entirely surprising position for us to be in (yes, I do consider myself a journalist, it’s what I write in the ‘occupation’ bit of forms so it must be true) because traditionally, journalists have not topped the list of most-trusted professions.
But this is different. Since the News Of The World (NOTW) hacking scandal has intensified and recieved global coverage these past few weeks, journalists in Australia are being accused – explicitly and implicitly- of some heinous things. Crimes, in fact.
I do not work for News Ltd. In fact I currently work for one of his competitors – Fairfax publish my newspaper column and I used to work for another of his competitors, ACP Magazines.
So I am not writing this post to apologise for Rupert or News Corp and certainly not for the actions of anyone at NOTW. Hacking into the phones of any person – famous, civilian, dead or alive – is appalling and inexcusable. That’s why Britain is having all manner of police and parliamentary enquiries into this scandal. And so they bloody well should.
However. There are a couple of important points that are being lost as some opportunists seek to draw a line between journalism in the UK and Australia as if we were talking about the same climate, the same media culture. We’re not.
When it was announced that News International were closing NOTW a couple of weeks ago and British media and politicians exploded with references to the “disgust of the British people”, someone on Twitter remarked sarcastically that they thought the British people would express their disgust by buying every single copy of the last edition of NOTW.
How right they were. That is exactly what happened.
So what’s my point? The British newspaper industry (not just those owned by News Corp) is different to the Australian newspaper industry because British readers are different. Very. For so many tabloid publications (over 50 newspapers and tabloid mags) to thrive the way they do, you need a lot of readers who want that kind of tawdry, gossipy, exploitative, low-rent “news”.