Wick Communications

Hacking away at it

In Ethics on July 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

There were actually three big news stories in the last week that I cared very little about. One was the acquittal of Casey Anthony. I filed that in the “O.J.” file, which is to say an isolated court case that just doesn’t affect my life one way or the other. Another was “Carmageddon,” the weekend closure of the big freeway in Los Angeles. (You would have thought L.A. was under siege for all the news coverage.) The third was the News of the World hacking scandal.

I feel a bit badly for not caring much about the troubles within Rupert Murdoch empire. I actually know it’s kind of important.

As everyone knows, reporters at Murdoch’s popular tabloid, the News of the World, had found a way to hack into the phones of many people in order to gather gossip and other tidbits that it then put into headlines. The story gets juicier every day, with arrests of former News Corps. officials, the closing of the newspaper itself, the appearance of British Prime Minister David Cameron before a raucous House of Commons, the resignation of top brass at Scotland Yard, and the crazy guy who tried to throw a shaving-cream pie in the face of Murdoch as he testified before parliament. Oh, and I forgot the mysterious death of the whistleblower in the original hacking case.

It’s almost a shame that the News of the World isn’t around to document it all in 60-point headlines like, “MURDOCH’S CLOSE SHAVE!” …

I guess I just didn’t care because, A) didn’t we already know these sleazy tabloids would do anything to get the story? And B) 2.7 million Brits bought that rag every week. Now they are outraged at the lengths its reporters went to get all that garbage?

(By the way, the British Guardian newspaper reports that in 1951, at it’s circulation peak, the News of the World sold 8.4 million copies each week – that’s one for every six British citizens. Wow.)

But it is important. Because too many people casually lump us in with them. We lack the language to differentiate community journalists like you and me from those guys at the tabloids. We’re all newspapers and members of the media. These indiscretions cut into our credibility, I’m afraid.

Now is a good time to separate yourself from tabloid journalism by virtue of your everyday actions. In my case, it helps that I have no idea how to hack a telephone.

Clay

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