Thursday, 7 July 2011

What next for British Journalism now that the (news of the) world has ended?

Following increasingly damaging allegations over phone hacking, the

News of the World

Has announced that the Sunday edition will be its last.

In truth the paper has been in the news for some considerable months, with reports that its journalists hacked into the voicemails of various celebrities and politicians. However, these allegations became a lot more damaging in the past week, when it was alleged that the hacking of voicemails had extended to murder victims and their parents, deceased members of the armed forces and victims of the July 7 bombings.

Serious action was called for and the closure of the paper was announced this afternoon.

But surely the question needs to be asked what now for the reputation of British journalism?

It is already widely speculated that the practice of phone hacking was not unique to the News of the World, and it is not unreasonable to think that now the paper has closed, the spotlight may well fall on other publications.

So how does British reporting come back from this? Many of the tabloid press's main reporting is on scandal type stories, celebrities having affairs, politicians turning out to be gay/having affairs/over claiming on their expenses.

Now the British public know how that kind of information has been obtained in the past, surely any story of that nature is going to be met with suspicion by those who read it?

One can't help wondering when a paper reports that "a close friend of Mr X said," whether they mean that the close friend said it to the paper, or whether he said it on the individual's voicemail and it was intercepted.

Have we potentially moved to a point where salacious reporting has lost its shine because of the mere nature by which the information has been obtained in the past? Even if a paper is not guilty of these tactics, it's difficult for anyone to believe given the recent allegations.

It could of course be argued that the affairs of celebrities aren't really newsworthy in the first place, but that is perhaps a topic for another discussion.

In the meantime the rest of the British press are left to defend their own reputations in the wake of the closure of one of the top selling Sunday papers in the country, and one can only imagine that both the public and the rest of the world's media will view them all with suspicion for a long time to come.

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