(11i) They did it again

Recently, the trial of bosses of newspapers from the Murdoch group ended and all except one person were found not guilty. OK, the worst offender, the News of the World, does no longer exist and a number of smaller fish were already convicted while it seems millions of pounds are already paid to victims of the hacking (although they may start having to fear that they may have to return some money now newspapers may claim the court proved them to be innocent. Likewise, BP, the company responsible for the Deepwater disaster, started to claim they paid too much to some victims. Because, mercy they don't know, they know only profits).

When the hacking became public a few years ago, public outrage was big, not so much because celebrities were targeted because many people like to know what celebrities do as the latter earn money being famous and thus the public loves to know about any of their (mis)behaviour. No, outrage was mainly because ordinary people were targeted who had suffered great distress such as a mother of a missing girl who was found murdered.

And maybe the bosses at the news organisations didn't know what was happening because indeed, bosses can't always know what employers do but should report them as soon as they know they are misbehaving (and not condemn whistleblowers). Still, immediately after the scandal broke, the value of the 'Murdoch' shares tumbled while today, only a few years later, they seem to be higher than before the scandal. In addition, the scandal brought the family together, certainly now Rupert Murdoch's girlfriend left him while a few years working in the twilight zone allowed the children to gain experience and approval from investors although the number of people who thrust them is still lower than before but probably will rise again when their empire rises again, certainly when they may have a few new stories.

Because, that these newspapers haven't learnt their lesson yet became obvious recently via the story by the Daily Mail (although not part of Murdoch's group) about George Clooney and his future wife. Indeed, it seems they made false accusations and later apologised for this although I think they didn't expect his very courageous decision of not accepting the apology. Indeed, newspapers can claim to apologise but then should proof it is sincere by not repeating their misbehaviour or they show their apology was only made because they realised they went too far and people may condemn them for this and thus profits may fall. I call his refusal to accept the apology courageous because now he and others involved risk attacks from the newspaper for not accepting their apology. If they would do this, it would proof their apology was not sincere as otherwise they would understand his refusal. Now it seems Mr Clooney wants to make a film about the British hacking scandal (and this could mean more oil on the fire).

Also the family McCann's are again angry with the press (this time with the Sunday Times (part of Mr Murdoch's press group to which also the Sun belongs)). Seven years ago their daughter disappeared in Portugal and she is still missing. The family claims certain press have learnt nothing from their past misbehaviour as the newspaper seems not to be willing to publish a full defence by the parents against certain accusations. Of course, the newspaper is not happy it has to pay the family £55,000 damages after they published an article claiming the family deliberately hindered the search for their daughter. Because, unless there is very hard evidence, this can't be claimed because normal parents would not hinder the search for their children. Now the parents are demanding that the conclusions of the Leveson inquiry will be taken into account so that these publications can no longer be published without hard evidence. Of course, the journalists could have gone to the police if they had any evidence and still have published it. And of course, the journals know this story sells because every normal person can understand the horror of this story and hopes it will end - for the good or the bad so the nightmare stops.

Another scandal whereby the Sunday Mirror published a story about a Tory minister who sent some pictures of him to a 'girl' (who in fact was a male journalist) after 'she' told him 'she' admired him, resulting in his resignation. Some journalist claim the intelligence of the man should be questioned because how can he think a younger person want to see him naked or can even love him at his age. This is incorrect. Indeed, why should an older person not be able to think that some people like them while it is not because many people prefer someone younger that there are not young people who prefer older people. But the journalist is right to say he should not have resigned because it seems the politician didn't abuse his position against 'her', on the contrary, it was the journalist who made the first steps and this with lies. How can these journalists who are working for the gossip press continue to believe they can continue this behaviour unpunished? Indeed, in this case another politician complained to the press authorities in the hope the gossip journalist and newspaper will be prosecuted and forced to pay. One day, certain journalists will regret the disgusting stories they continued to write about the private lives of people when one day they target the wrong person who is unable to forgive what is written.

Indeed, two Australian journalists were very chocked and their show cancelled when they heard the news that the nurse who looked after the pregnant Princess Middleton committed suicide as she couldn't accept that during a hoax interview she spoke with the two journalists about Princess Middleton's condition.

Also in France people are fighting back as six people try to sue a journalist and the television channel. Indeed, recently a madman killed four people in a supermarket while seven people were hiding themselves in the cold room. The journalist aired where some people were hiding so the murderer could have heard this information and thus could have killed them. These people now decided it was negligence of the journalist and will try to sue him and the organisation he works for.


But it is not only the media that is guilty as Monica Lewinsky talks about in her well presented speech (in which she shows she is a grown-up woman) about her bullying because she felt in love with her boss, the then president of the USA. Indeed, the media broadcasted this news as if it was the most important thing on earth. The only thing that is missing in her speech is how she was used by many to damage the president (as today the same party tries to damage the present president by spreading rumours) while the president could have cut the story by being honest (although of course he probably didn't want to hurt his family). But as she mentions, wherever she went and goes, there were and still are people ridiculing her because she felt in love with someone although many show their support. She speaks about having thought about suicide and decided it was time she starts speaking about her experience, not only because she hopes that one day people will stop blaming her but also so other people will think and stop bullying others. Still, taking someone else her man is also not very nice although he too could have refused.

Still, some people bring it upon themselves like a young woman (who I will not name as she is already shamed by many people) who claimed to have survived a terminal brain cancer by having followed a specific diet and published about it in blogs and books. Not only did she make money from this story, many desperately-ill (maybe even terminally-ill) people may have stopped their cancer therapy and may have started the diet she promoted in the hope it would cure them while now it seems it was all a lie and thus people feel betrayed while many may be angry because they may have known people who died because they stopped their therapy after reading about her experience. Indeed, she is now publicly shamed and although a pity for her, it may help think others twice before they decide to become famous by inventing stories because in the longer run lies can be revealed. In this case, the media did its job by discovering a lie and informing the public.


After the Leveson inquiry many newspapers rejected actions against newspapers, and now after the 'not guilty' verdict of most of the main players in the hacking scandal, many may think they can continue as before because they are untouchable. But they should be careful not going too far because indeed many people, including powerful people, are starting to get fed up with newspapers that report or worse, invent news events that were meant to be private. And ones too far, very severe consequences can follow, certainly when those stories may threaten the career of ambitious people.

The press needs to accept it too needs to obey some basic rules, because, as with the financial sector, self-control doesn't work and result in corruption. I wrote about this before (although that can still improve) where I would do it differently than a Royal Charter as that is out of the control of Parliament, press and public. Indeed, contrary to what many media believe, democratically-elected politicians can't be excluded as they make laws that needs to be obeyed (unless they are wrong) while control organisations with a mixture of politicians, judges, media people but also ordinary people can check whether the media follows certain basic laws. People working in the media need to behave or face the consequences, even in front of judges. Indeed, press freedom was there to protect journalists who wanted to release information about corrupt people while these scandals may result in the possibility that actions are granted that can be used against the press that reports about corruption.

Indeed, the problem may be that also the serious press will be limited, and maybe even first, for instance for publishing about the existence of a spying program that certain governments wanted to keep hidden from Parliament and public while the bad media supports that government wants to keep this secret, even when it is in the interest of the general public. Another example: the Guardian published about wealthy financiers who support the Tories without the public knowing about them. Of course, many will not like it that their names are revealed. And thus some (all?) may try to pressure the government to stop journalists from publishing their names again in future or donations will stop. The good press questions the actions we are taking to stop immigrants reach Europe while the bad press show support for governments that use dramatic measures to keep the immigrants out of Europe. And thus, what a press should do, i.e. reveal questionable things that are done by governments and industry, may be blocked while these things may be supported by the bad press who may continue doing what they do, i.e. reveal people their private life, often in order to break those people their careers such as opponents from political parties or unions but also members of animal or human right groups.


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