Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Know Your Enemy

"We've now got ourselves into a situation in this country where [for] our tabloid press, partly because of the internet and social media and the way in which stories now travel, ... anything that brings in money is justifiable. They seem to have lost any sense of whether this story is going to do so much harm to the people whose background you're revealing that you shouldn't touch it with a barge pole."

Angela Phillips, Professor of Journalism at Goldsmiths, speaking in the wake of the Sun's deeply unsavoury muck-raking about Ben Stokes and a journalist not only blackmailing Gareth Thomas into disclosing his HIV diagnosis but revealing it to his parents.

She is of course right that this is a simple matter of ethics rather than anything to do with press freedom - but that hasn't stopped Ian Murray of the Society of Editors from blathering on about a free press being "a jewel in the crown of any free society". These aren't cases in which you can see (in his words) "the sharks circling" - "the politicians, the rich, the powerful who would like to see that free press closed down"; on the contrary, the criticism is coming from ordinary people who just believe in the value of common decency and respect.

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