The Murdoch/News of the World scandal is going to injure journalists everywhere for a long time.
People’s mistrust of them is already high, and as more and more question the need and validity of a daily newspaper, more and more will miss the point of why journalism is needed. They are there to be the watchdogs, to critique fairly those who need critical examination. Newspapers are not blogs, and journalists are not only bloggers (though many are also bloggers, and many bloggers are very very good journalists – with or without payment).
Investigative reporting takes time, effort, and skill. It is not phone tapping – and we should ask more of our journalists and hold them to a high account. People should feel that they can criticize and contribute to their daily, weekly, monthly… newspaper. Lazy, unprofessional and unethical journalists are few in the grand scheme. Many get into the business for the love of it – not to make money (trust me).
I for one, am glad to see Murdoch on public trial for his crimes. They are crimes.They are crimes against the principle of journalism and against the right of freedom of information. Information should be available, but it needn’t be flaunted to cause harm against innocent people.
There is a certain gravity that goes with being a journalist. People look to those few who make it in the industry to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. We, as a society, understand that journalism doesn’t describe what tabloid reporters, or TMZ does. However, those who endeavour to work in the field of investigative journalism, or who are happy to take 10 cents a word for a story that takes 20 hours to write and research, do it for the sake of amelioration, not for the glory.
It is a competitive industry, and those reporters who worked under Brooks have harrowing stories to tell. It doesn’t have to be this way. The papers and journalists who resort to petty methods of information gathering, and the editors that sell articles or take content from others without paying (or notifying) will eventually die off. They will lose readers, and lose respect and be rocked by a scandal they can’t come out of.
But, it is up to the media consuming public to really and truly support the media that does it the right way. Pay for those on-line subscriptions, pledge to local campus-community stations, or to your favourite NPR podcast.
I see this News of the World thing as an opening for real journalists, and those who aspire to do good work in the field. I see it as a chance to redeem ourselves. While I may be both a sporadic journalist (as my freelancing record can attest) and blogger (as this blog site can attest) – I care about where this industry is going and whether or not people like myself can keep a place in it.
Lastly, the world also needs great editors and those who are amazing at their job rarely get the recognition they deserve – so a small token of my affection to the long suffering and highly patient editors of my present and past.