Look At It This Way - July 22, 2011

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In the immortal words of Carry On News International... infamy, infamy, they’ve got it in for me.

When you’re in a profession – as some of us still profess to call journalism – somewhere between parasite and politician in the public popularity poll it’s easy to get depressed about the Press.

Take heart. We’re still there for you. For those of us who struggle to send a text message, the thought of hacking into someone else’s mobile would be laughable, were it not such a breach of the ethics most of us hold dear in local journalism.

But nor do I find anything particularly newsy or noteworthy in the fact that some hacks are sleazebags who would sell their granny for an exclusive.

What irritates me more is the insincerity of politicians and police who looked the other way, or hoped it would all go away. I hate the smell of sanctimony in the morning papers ...

“Qui tacet consentire videtur.” (Silence gives consent.) Remember those words from Robert Bolt’s study in integrity, A Man For All Seasons?

So few of us are defined by our conscience, we remember those who are. I wish I had that kind of courage. I could never adopt the moral high ground, I’d be too busy looking for the rat-run out of it through the sewers. That said, I’ve no time for gutter journalism. Yet I seriously wonder whether the current preoccupation with press, police and political principles hasn’t the heady whiff of McCarthy about it. A witch hunt.

It means most of us are looking the other way while people starve in Somalia, the Eurozone goes into meltdown, and local businesses go bump while bankers receive obscenely fat bonuses – where’s the public accountability in that?

There’s nothing the media like more than seeing the mighty fallen – words being mightier than swords when all is said and done – but just how much dirt can be dished on Digger Murdoch or acres of rainforest felled for Night of the Long Headlines before we all get hacked off?

One commentator even described Murdoch’s failure to bag the bulk of BSkyB as our “Berlin Wall moment”. What utter piffle.

It’s easy to be self righteous. It’s not so easy to be right. And right now I suspect those setting the national news agenda haven’t got it right. There are bad apples in any profession. Surely we learned that long ago when we left the Garden of Eden?

I’d rather you set the agenda. You did just that at our Meet the Reporter sessions (I was the one with whom you all avoided eye contact in Booths), you did it at the Area Forums last week. You did it at the town hall this week.

You do it daily, via our readers’ letters, emails, online comments, the calls we get to tip us off, or tell us when you think we’ve got it wrong. You’re the real reporters ... not us.