Monday, 13 February 2012

"A Rogue Hack..."

The journalists of the Sun have started to fight back against police action against corruption in their media organisation, News International. The discovery of more illegally-obtained material connected to Sun journalists is putting pressure on the Murdoch media as never before.

When it all hit the fan a few months ago and phone hacking was exposed at the News of the World, Newscorp was insistent that this was the work of one "rogue journalist". Of course they were wrong; it turned out that these kind of illegal and imoral practices were endemic, if not systemic in the practices of Newscorp/News International media in the UK. Now the police, by quiet but systematic and meticulous detective work, are starting to uncover the real extent of these practices. If Murdoch had hoped that, by sacrificing the News of the World he would somehow protect the rest of his media empire, he was wrong. 

The wolf cries of those journalists remaining at the Sun as they worry about their colleagues will kiss and tell to the police, are just that; crying wolf. The claim that the UK has fallen down the freedom of speech league table behind some ex-Soviet bloc countries because of the police investigation into the Sun are deliberately disingenuous...

They are disingenuous firstly because they are clearly intended to put pressure on the police not to continue their investigation into News International newspapers, methinks there are likely to be more arrests on the way, this article is therefore a desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable. Judging by recent performance, the current police investigation will plod on regardless. I suspect they were expecting this sort of thing from the Murdoch media as they start to get closer to the real culprits. If I were working on this investigation I would be very much heartened by the Sun's front page. Indeed I would have been expecting it, as a sign that the investigation is proceeding on the right lines.

They are disingenous secondly because the reason the UK has been slipping down the freedom of speech league table is because of organisations such as the Murdoch media. They have such power to set the agenda, to influence politicians, to influence some groups of voters, that their power and domination of the media almopst certainly represents the biggest single threat to freedom of speech in this country.

The bullying tactics used by the media, and in particular the Murdoch media were exposed brilliantly last week by the courageous work of Trans Media Watch at the Leveson Inquiry. The harrassment, intimidation, publication of personal medical information and yes, what can only be described as outright transphobic hate-crime on the part of journalists in the tabloid press was laid bare for all to see.

The wolf-cries of journalists, complaints of witch-hunts are all just pathetic squeals of bullies who are being brought bang to rights. They didn't think about the witch-hunts they were pursuing against trans people, they didn't think about the families with trans children who were forced from their homes and into a kind of lock-down hiding as a result of Murdoch (and others, like the Daily Mail) Journalists bullying tactics.

The Longest Witch-Hunt

However yesterday, there was another reminder that it isn't just groups like trans people who are regularly witch-hunted by the press. Will Hutton's apalling article in the Guardian banging on about "bad teachers" and telling teachers to be "less defensive" was, depressingly, typical of the majority of press output about teachers for the last quarter of a century. Journalists are squealing "Witch-hunt" after their dodgy practices are put under the spotlight for just a few months. They have been putting teachers through that sort of witch hunt since the mid 1980s. The Will Hutton article was notable not in terms of its content, it could have been published in almost any right-wing newspaper since 1985, it even followed a pretty much set pattern of similar articles one might find in the Sun, Mail, Telegraph etc. The Hutton article was notable because it was written by a journmalist who normally uses his talent to write expose about subjects in the spotlight but from a different point of view, revealing the complexities and nuances and hidden facets not normally revealed by the press. Instead of doing this Hutton decided to simply follow the pack.

Clearly witch-hunt journalism is not going away any time soon. It is depressing that a journalist I once respected has sold out to the pack and produced this politically-motivated drivel, the like of which one would have expected from a much lower-rated hack. If he had chosen to look behind the routine cries of "bad teachers" coming from the usual suspects (cries which tend to intensify when the government wants to do something really crappy to schools) Hutton would have found a real story there to expose, a story of systemic problems associated with the mechanisms of controlling schools including Ofsted, the system of academies and "free" schools, hidden centralisation and Stalinism at the DfE, and a school system which is becoming increasingly dysfnctional and harming the interests of pupils.

Pity Hutton chose the easy option, he is now descended to being little more than a has-been gutter press hack like the others now. I hear there are vacancies coming up at the Sun Will, you will need a course in computer/phone hacking first though...