The ‘News of the World’ Suicide.

When a newspaper decides to commit ‘hara-kiri’ you know there is something desperately wrong with the industry. So much has been written over the tabloid News of the World (NOTW) phone hacking scandal that there is no point in my repeating it, so let’s take a look more at why such a thing happened in the first place.

Fleet Street - Back When Reporters Were Honest

Up to the middle of the last century, newspapers were all about reporting the news as accurately and quickly as possible, and to get a ‘scoop’ was every editors dream. They reported the facts as they occurred, and usually without too much embellishment.

Then the inevitable happened, competition suddenly became fiercely contested when the ‘big money’ moved into Fleet Street and took over.

Since that time newspaper owners have become sharks in the aquarium, and the biggest on the block is Rupert Murdoch, owner of NOTW. He owns by far the largest share of all media reporting in the world. 

Richard Murdoch - Owner Of News International

His company, News International, owns 137 newspapers in Australia alone, 5 major ones in the USA, another 5 major papers in the UK plus 18 internationals. He owns 34 magazines, 23 TV channels spread between the USA and Britain, and 19 cable companies. Now he even wants to buy the UK TV channel BSkyB.

Murdoch has a stranglehold on news reporting across the english speaking world so we must all ask: Should one man be allowed to hold so much news reporting power? There is little doubt he has a great influence on the British political scene, especially during elections. It has been proven that biased reporting can sway the public to vote a certain way.

Over the years, with the arrival of king sharks like Murdoch, news reporting has steadily become worse as the business became more cut-throat. The idea of just reporting the news, along with journalistic integrity and honesty, went out the window when the drive to make money took over. The focus changed from pure reporting to the sordid task of generating profits at any cost, even to the extent of trashing people’s reputations. 

'Gotta Have A Scoop" Or My Ass Is Grass

Every newspaper reporter and editor is now hounded to get the ‘scoop of the century’ every day because that sells newspapers. To these people it no longer matters if the facts are correct, or even if the whole story is made up, as long as the front page story attracts people to buy their newspaper. This is true of all British newspapers, be it the trashy rags at the lower end, or those at the top.

We have been hit by a succession of scandals in Fleet Street over the years as one newspaper after another is caught out in a lie, or publishing incorrect information. If they end up in hot water over some report that was prefabricated or incorrect, they just print a small half column retraction a week later and its business as usual.

Breaking News - The Profumo Scandal

The story that gets editors salivating the most is a dark secret or scandal about some politician or other, for it allows their imagination ‘full rein’. We have only to look back at the Profumo case of 1963 where the newspapers went to town on the Conservative politician John Profumo for his ties to the prostitute Christine Keeler. During the 80’s and 90’s various Conservative MP’s evoked the ‘righteous’ wrath of Fleet Street, as did many Labour MP’s during their following period in power.

I will not deny that sometimes the attacks are justified and truly ‘in the public interest’. In the case of last years Westminster expenses scandal for example I, along with many others, feel that what the newspapers did was justified. That M.P’s fiddled their expenses to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds is worthy of a hundred front pages, and Fleet Street certainly got the full milage out of that story.

These days you hardly ever read a ‘good news’ story in the newspapers because they cannot drag themselves away from the darker side of life. Good news does not capture the minds of ‘Joe Public’ and therefore affects sales.

When you look at the whole journalistic world today you should ask yourself: Whatever happened to integrity, morality and truth?

The simple answer is, these core values that used to be held so high by our forefathers, have died. They are lost in the cesspool of corruption, lies and the desperate need to sell papers.

Where The NOTW Is Headed

If you are one of those who believes everything you read in today’s newspapers ‘because it must be true’, then you are a fool, and perpetuate the downward spiral of a once mighty and respected profession into the black hole of oblivion.

There can be little doubt in today’s world that most tabloids are fighting for survival, for with the rise of computers and internet technology over the past two decades, their role has been severely diminished. This may explain their thirst for explosive scandal for they see this as the only way to survive. The more outrageous the story, so much the better.

For most people, the advantage of a newspaper is that you can take it with you and read it at the local coffee shop or during a break at work, which you cannot do with a computer. Until today that is!

The Future Of News Reading?

Now we see the market being flooded with tablets and smart phones that you can carry with you, so the role of the newspaper is likely to diminish even further. At some time in the future, the entire industry will have to change its focus as people come to rely more and more on their electronic gadgets and internet news channels.

Given the current state of the journalistic profession, that may not be such a bad thing, but it makes you wonder, will the evils of printed news be carried over to the internet? We shall see! 

Roy.

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