Sunday, July 10, 2011

The End of the News of the World is Nigh


Actually, after 168 years and 8,674 editions, the end is upon us.

It is quite easy for a minority of perverts and reprobates to tarnish the good name and undermine the integrity of otherwise respected and revered institutions. We’ve seen pilfering politicians do it to Parliament; paedophile priests do it to the Roman Catholic Church; greedy bankers do it to the financial sector; thoughtless royals do it to the Monarchy; political bias do it to the BBC; and unprincipled journalists do it to the press. And doubtless inquiries into the phone-hacking scandal will reveal more than a few corrupt police officers, which will in turn erode confidence and trust in the Met.

As pillars of the Establishment are systematically undermined by corruption from within, it is perfectly reasonable that those without may feel dismay, disgust, and anger at the behaviour of the few. The problem, of course, is that these ‘few’ make normal functioning almost impossible for the many: mud sticks. We now live in a world in which it is axiomatic that all politicians are just out for personal gain; the bankers are greedy; the Royal Family unhinged; priests are suspected paedophiles; the BBC is untrustworthy; journalists are amoral; and the police are corrupt.

Comparing sins is difficult: there is no sense in which the rape and torture of children can be equated with the financial hardship inflicted on millions; or the subtle manipulation of national perception can be compared with a few invasions of privacy. But all of these end in hardship, injustice, suffering, and pain. Which is why you might expect the Established Church to speak prophetically into this degradation, devaluation, and decline; to confront head-on the corruption, perversion and prostitution of our national institutions.

Except that the Church of England has itself regressed, compromised, and supped with the Devil.

It is one thing to preach that the behaviour of the News of the World has been ‘utterly reprehensible and unethical’. But it is ever-so-slightly undermined when one learns that the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group apparently has no problem with a $6m (£3.76m) investment in News Corporation. The EIAG chairman has written to Rupert Murdoch to insist that the Board of News Corporation takes all necessary measures to instil investor confidence in the ethical and governance standards of News Corporation. He says: ‘We cannot imagine circumstances in which we would be satisfied with any outcome that does not hold senior executives to account at News Corporation for the gross failures of management at the News of the World.’

Beam. Mote. Eye.

The News of the World sought to investigate and expose hypocrisy, lies, and deceit in high (and not so high) places. It has successfully scrutinised the rich and powerful, the great and the good. It has less successfully titillated us with exposés of the tedious sex lives of celebrities, sports personalities, and people who scarcely matter to anyone but themselves. But when one chooses to expose hypocrisy, lies and deceit by means that are themselves laden with corruption and deceit, the hypocrisy is manifest.

But let us not be naïve about this: the end of the News of the World is something of a tragedy for investigative journalism, and so a diminution of the propagation of truth. There are very many of the rich and powerful, the great and the good, who will be rejoicing today that there will be less observation of their lives and less scrutiny of their affairs. And organisations like the BBC will be jubilant that this whole sorry saga has called into question the ethics of the Murdoch empire and the appropriateness of his bid to take over BSkyB.

The end of the News of the World is also something of a tragedy for the ordinary man: the newspaper has been at the forefront of campaigning for the victims of thieves, murderers, liars, and paedophiles. It has often brought some refreshing common sense to some of the touchiest subjects in British politics. But now we risk moving into an era of statutory press regulation, at the behest (incredibly) of a Conservative prime minister. Where once was freedom will be control and conformity of the sort we see now on the Continent, and the europeanisation of our media will be complete. As our once-great British newspapers gradually fade and die, it will probably be for the blogs to hold the rich and powerful to account; to scrutinise the greatness and goodness of the great and the good.

And if they should ever seek to regulate the blogosphere, then we shall no longer be free at all to investigate, speak, or contend for the truth. If the end of the News of the World heralds the end of the freedom of the press, it will soon be for the state to determine and license who is ‘fit and proper’ to disseminate information. And Orwell's vision of the future will be upon us. If it isn't already.

25 Comments:

Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Well said, Your Grace. The great and the good will be celebrating the demise of the News of the World, so we must hope that its replacement is as successful in holding them to account.

As for regulating the blogosphere, the Council of Europe started down that path eight years ago with its Additional protocol to the convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, an idea since taken up with relish by the European Union.

10 July 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Heavy hitting stuff YG, goodness if your ashes had eyes, they would be piercing.

I see in the Mail this morning the name Blair has come up, equal rights allows the scum to rise instead of the cream.

Forget ticket touts, these are the Title touts, Sir did you buy that Title from a reputable purveyor?

What a bunch of purvs, it will will get more and more purveyor as it all unfolds.

10 July 2011 at 11:37  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

BITB Said

"I see in the Mail this morning the name Blair has come up, equal rights allows the scum to rise instead of the cream."

Why Ernst is so fond of you, my boy.

Eccentricity mixed with discernment!


Excellent post Your Grace.

Ernsty.

10 July 2011 at 12:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Cameron mention something about of bringing in a new law to protect people's privacy from phone hackers? If so, how could that be a bad thing?

Damo

10 July 2011 at 12:39  
Anonymous bluedog said...

' As our once-great British newspapers gradually fade and die, it will probably be for the blogs to hold the rich and powerful to account;'

Indeed, Your Grace.

Meanwhile, there are a number of women who will be important in deciding the outcome of the current debacle:

1) HM Queen. One almost feels sorry for Dave, who may be answering some very pointed questions on his next visit to the Palace.
2) Sam Cam. Dave's patrician naivete in hiring Andy Coulson now threatens the entire project. Hot tongue and cold shoulder on the menu?
3) Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. Aged 101, the Murdoch family matriarch will not take kindly to the antics in London, being of a Victorian ethical outlook in all regards.
4) Rebekah Brooks. Once M/s Brooks realises that she has nothing to loose by singing like a canary, it may be good night for many, many careers.

Curiously there is not the slightest hint of impropriety regarding the Murdoch press in its homeland, Australia. In fact the Murdoch press is involved in a desparate battle to uphold Freedom of Speech in a court case involving its journalist Andrew Bolt. Mr Bolt made the mistake of calling some aboriginal women too white to be aboriginal. An observation in which there appears to be a grain of truth, to the casual observer. Predictably the full wrath of the Human Rights lobby has fallen upon Mr Bolt in defence of these grievously maligned wimmin, and he is facing criminal charges under the Race Relations Act. Surprisingly, one member of the Left has rallied to Bolt's defence :http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/thought-crimes-a-bolt-through-the-heart-of-modern-democracy/comments-fn59niix-1226078104878

10 July 2011 at 12:50  
Blogger Matthew Steeples said...

Fascinating piece.

Check out my view at http://dasteepsspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/07/news-is-screwed.html

You might also be interested in my view on the disgrace that is the PCC: http://dasteepsspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/07/fall-of-another-flop.html

10 July 2011 at 16:08  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Pungent remarks, indeed: putting in a good word for the Roman Catholic Church (whose reputation has been unhappily tarnished by "a minority of perverts and reprobates") so as to make the bad one for the Church of England (which "has itself regressed, compromised, and supped with the Devil") seem all the blacker.

As for Becky, she could be better qualified for a post with EU than even Baroness Ashton of Upholland, if Governor of New South Wales is not the thing that it was.

But these days and with her connections, and given certain hints that have been dropped, a new career in the multi-million turnover celebrity appearances business is a likely prospect or something even more prestigious.

Consider how the disgraced Rector of Stiffkey started over.

10 July 2011 at 16:24  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Solid post Mr Cranmer and balanced with regard to the harm caused the few within organisations, religious and state, to individuals who suffer at their hands and to the trust shown these bodies. It has always been so and will be until history ends.

The News of the World will no doubt arise as the Sun on Sunday.

10 July 2011 at 17:16  
Anonymous MrJ said...

It is not the latest news that News International Newspapers Limited was registered on 5 July for Domain name: sunonsunday.co.uk on 5 July; but with the state of affairs now being described as "a failure of criminal law", would a paper of that name have a future?

Sundown on Sunday may be more probable.

The proportion of news fit to print is in decline, while the real world of international and domestic crises continues to threaten the future.

10 July 2011 at 18:41  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Slimy dave does not need a new law,he and his gang are already free to read all of your emails whenever they like.More and more countries are bringing in censorship of the internet,under various guises,be it porn or copywright,rothschild does not want the plebs talking to each other,he wants a system like soviet russia where there is only one official version of information,and the plebs will not know any difference,we already have lies,in the future there will only be official lies.But you get what you voted for.

10 July 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Much as I like His Grace's style at times, I'm afraid I simply love Charlie Brooker's which has it pitch perfect today I think. Sorry to the 'Marxist-aware' here but it's a Guardian link.

10 July 2011 at 19:10  
Anonymous Oswin said...

There is really no call for 'shock' and 'horror' as it has all been done before, throughout history; and it always will be, unless regulated and policed properly.

We should not be surprised that people do bad things, but we should always ensure that safeguards against the inevitable, are always in place.

Absolutely NOTHING can be truly deregulated where human beings are concerned. Whatever fool ever thought otherwise, was a fool indeed.

As regards the press, it was not a case of deregulation, but rather one of failing to keep abreast of advances in technology, jointly accompanied, by an acceptance of forever lowering standards.

When one peddles muck, filth and salacious scandal, it is hardly surprising that other ethical considerations suffer as a consequence.

The lowly standard of almost ALL media outlets require a significant uplift. We need to stop playing to the lowest common denominator, regardless of the prurient demand of the 'mob'.

There will always be a place for the typically British, rumbustious and cheeky, seaside-postcard approach to newspapers; but the 'irreverent' need not be pornographic or unnecessarily prying.

10 July 2011 at 19:17  
Anonymous not a machine said...

A free press is vital to a democracy , a press free to bend things to its own will is quite another .

The blair era had a joyous union of press and progressive dreaming. your grace points out that where politicians want to shackle the press ,the polticians will have more cover to do as they wish unchecked . I perhaps agreee with your grace about the dangers of stifling/gagging the press , but I would think our freedom market is mature enough to sort any wrong legislation out.

It is perhaps notable that the press did not investigate with any sucess what was going on with our finances and in funny bank transactions , so you do wonder if it has been free ?

10 July 2011 at 19:27  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Forward planning -- When or if the time comes: How many of the Ofcom Board are fit and proper persons to consider fitnes and propriety in the question of BSkyB takeover?

...all, any, most, some, just a few, don't know ?

How would you know?

How would they know?

How would Our Dave (H2B) know?

The Register of their disclosable interests online at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/about/how-ofcom-is-run/ofcom-board-2/members/register-of-disclosable-interests/

Answers on a saucy p.c. to "News from Nowhere (or An Epoch of Rest)" deceased.

10 July 2011 at 19:47  
Anonymous Voyager said...

which will in turn erode confidence and trust in the Met.

Sorry Your Grace you must have been a long time asleep to think the Met has anything left to tarnish.

How many deaths - 11 isn't it ? Without a single court case. It has repeated bouts of corruption - Operation Countryman and the whole series since.

It is a Political Police Force and senior officers dine with Rebekah Brooks, she who rides with Cameron ! It will be exposed in 2012 during the Olympics for what it is.

Watch Between The Lines again and see how current Neil Pearson's investigations at CIB really are. The Met is both incompetent and corrupt but seemingly available for hire to freebooting newspapers.

As for NoW.....when did it ever expose a corrupt journalist or philandering editor ?

10 July 2011 at 20:50  
Blogger Joseph Takagi said...

The News of the World sought to investigate and expose hypocrisy, lies, and deceit in high (and not so high) places.

And to what moral purpose? What good does telling the public that Gordon Ramsay had a mistress do, except to create more misery for his wife?

There are things that it's important for the press to investigate, and at times, break the law for. There is a moral case for hacking the phone of an MP who's suspected of corruption. For the things that the NOTW investigated, there is none.

10 July 2011 at 21:22  
Anonymous Toby the Jug said...

Bet toilet paper manufacturers are disappointed and their stock drops tomorrow!

10 July 2011 at 21:31  
Anonymous bluedog said...

MrJ, one weakness in the entire Murdoch position would appear to be the age of Rupert at 80. Isn't the age of statutory senility 72 yo, after which a director must be voted annually? Somehow one suspects that if Rupert was 20 years younger, none of this would have happened.

As it is KRM has been desparately trying to groom one of his children by his second marriage as his successor. Unsuccessfully, it would appear.

10 July 2011 at 21:36  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Legality is not reality, tis but the tyranny of the Scribes, freedom is in the living Word.

A Gentlemans word was his bond because we are primarily an oral Tradition.

Tradition is what we need, where are the voices of our storytellers, our true Culture bearers.

An Englishmans home was his Castle, because it contained the Sacred Hearth, gather once more around the flicker of a living flame and watch the sparks fly, folk wisdom is all the news you will need to help save the day.

Tell tales of the Ogre.

10 July 2011 at 22:06  
Anonymous MrJ said...

At the Jug and Bottle, Mr Bluedog, could be Cranmerians would regard ageist remarks of that kind as less than fit and proper: forfeit -- the next round !

10 July 2011 at 22:32  
Anonymous Toby the Jug said...

Toby the Jug said...

Drop too much of the golden nectar this evening and got this wrong way around!

Should read:

"Bet toilet paper manufacturers are overjoyed and their stock rises tomorrow!"

Bluedog - Moses was 80 years old when God first called him to lead the Isrealites out of the desert. Not that I'm comparing the weasel Murdoch with Moses it's just that it's his morality not his age that's the issue.

11 July 2011 at 00:08  
Anonymous MrJ said...

As choo-choo Murdochio goes down the track hauling pig-iron, garbage and hazardous substances toward disaster, and bystanders wager on whether the intelligence agencies have information for emergency services to cope with rescue operations, of uncertain extent and magnitude, let the anxious crowd be cheered with a sing-along:

John Henry:
"Captain, captain, gimme my time! I can make mo' money on the A.C. and L. Than I can on the Georgia Line"

Rock Island Line:
"The man say, you alright boy just get on through, you don't have to pay me nothin"

Railroad Bill:
"Railroad Bill's a mighty mean man, Shot the light out of the poor brakeman's hand"

11 July 2011 at 07:29  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Good riddance. Now if we could just get shot of the Sun, Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Socialist Worker and the Grauniad ...

11 July 2011 at 09:42  
Anonymous bluedog said...

MrJ, for the railway enthusiast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTL9myUqLMs

11 July 2011 at 10:06  
Anonymous MrJ said...

New to me Mr Bluedog (10:06).

Slowmoving, but good lyric: "get ready for the train to Jordan..." (noting "founded as The Roosters by Chattanooga", so they must know about choo-choos).

Also noted "from Chicago", where the POTUS come from.

Reminded me of Thurber's Get-Ready Man, a favourite in its time: the elderly gent, of wild eyes and deep voice, bellowing through a megaphone 'Get ready! Get read-y The Worllld is coming to an End!'

Almost a role model, for a while.

11 July 2011 at 13:59  

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