The nature of journalism is changing as fast as the technology that’s keeping it on its toes. We have an insatiable desire for information and a level of curiosity about the famous and infamous that drives news, but with so much available for free newspapers are finding themselves less profitable. For media executives satisfying public demand and maintaining their profit margins is like being caught between a rock and a hard place.
A few weeks ago, tabloids rejoiced at the power of Twitter to break superinjunctions taken out by the famous to hide their indiscretions. But the phone hacking scandal is the flipside of the coin, unveiling the basest of actions committed for commercial reasons without scruple or compassion. For the families of little girls who have been abducted, abused and killed, the News of the World has added another assault, giving false hope, interfering with police investigations and invading the lives of those who were so utterly vulnerable.
No wonder the public is outraged.
Truth has two sides. You can’t have a double standard. If you want to uncover the truth about celebrities you’ve got to be prepared for people to hear the truth about you too. Journalism, I was trained to believe, was about telling the truth, presenting facts so people had the information to make up their own minds.
Truth can be ruthless in its honesty. If you live a life that can withstand the glare of truth, then you will be set free to report the truth where you see it with confidence. As dealers in truth, perhaps we need to relearn the hard lesson that we have to live up to the high standard of integrity that truth demands, taking the proverbial plank out of our own eyes before hunting down splinters in others.