Power without responsibility or thought of consequences

dailymail_mastheadI’m no supporter of press regulation. The current hastily-assembled proposals in the UK for written media regulation – including relating to this blog – is misplaced. That is not to say that what the journalists at News International and Mirror Group have done is not serious. Only that regulation will inhibit journalist’s ability investigate wrongdoing. Unfortunately, many of the violations of legitimate journalism in recent times have involved celebrity culture rather than real issues affecting society more generally.

There seems now to be a growing list of casualities – by which I mean deaths – arising from illegitimate ‘journalism’. I’ve always hated hoax phone calls – even when done by real satirists in pursuit of a real point. Here I think of Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci with The Day Today, the excellent parody of news production. But the two radio presenters in Australia, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who contacted the hospital in London where Kate Windsor was briefly held realised that hoaxing can lead to suicide, however improbable was the prank. The nurse who took the call, Jacintha Saldanha, committed suicide whilst the pair were still boasting.

David Kelly’s death over leaks related to WMDs in Iraq, again, can be traced to poor journalistic judgement. In this case, Andrew Gilligan, formally of the BBC and now of the Daily Telegraph.

And now we have the suicide of a transgendered woman, Lucy Meadows, teaching in a school in Accrington in Lancashire, after Richard Littlejohn had railed against her in the Daily Mail. The story has been pulled by the Daily Mail, but it has been archived here: http://tinyurl.com/cg45jrk; a petition has been launched. It can be accessed from the story here: http://tinyurl.com/blhgkmc

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