On Hacking

Well. I watched the start of it all with bated breath – who wouldn’t? First the allegations, then the sudden closure of the News of the world, then you had the circus like flan flinging which led to That Punch Up. It was spectacular beyond belief. Then it seemed to go a bit stale, like some sort of hackneyed bring out your dead scenario.

But then tonight, it struck me afresh. This is not about press freedom, cavalier journalism or David and Goliath, aka Guardian versus Murdoch. Well it is, of course, about all of those terribly important things, but there is something more at stake. The McCanns, the Dowlers, the poor man accused of Jo Yeates’s murder last December; people who, through no fault of their own, having already endured harrowing experiences, were then subjected to a second ordeal. And reading some of these dreadful testimonies, you could be forgiven for wondering if we had not reverted to some kind of new dark age; one where trial by mob and media reign supreme.

Do we live in a democracy? Do ordinary people count for anything in this country anymore? Do we have any shred of empathy or compassion left in our twitching, soulless bones, or are we now incapable of anything better than addictive voyeurism? I myself feel slightly nauseous to know that I watched the news and buzzed like a horrible horse fly around the media frenzy.

Kate McCann compares her experiences at the hands of the tabloid press to being raped. And I defy anyone reading that, or indeed seeing those other poor people coming out of the woodwork, to remain unmoved. It is like watching Night of the Living Dead; only this time, the spectres are those of the living, coming back to haunt those who raised them by dabbling in the dark art of hacking. It really is horrible. And it beggars belief that anyone could even attempt to justify such insidious, vulture-like behaviour on the flimsy, spurious grounds of press freedom.

Don’t get me wrong: I would not want to blunt the sharp, visceral edge of the British press – it is after all, the very same that burst the bubble of MPs’ expenses. But I think that what went on here was freedom for the few, at the great expense of the many.  So I can only hope that something is done, because it is clear to me that something has been very rotten in the state of England – and for quite some time.


5 thoughts on “On Hacking”

  1. Well said, BB.

    Freedom for the few to sell newspapers, and so make money by feeding the appetite of the public’s insatiable thirst for this sort of voyeurism? It is truly obscene and one cannot help but feel for the victims.

    I don’t want to read this sort of thing, but some indeed may be interested. I’m pleased the victims are fighting back, but again they face more press exposure.

  2. I think you have far too much faith in the decency of human nature. You talk about ‘ordinary’ people, as if all ‘ordinary’ people are somehow decent and those who are not ‘ordinary’ are corrupt. Bu those people would not be ordinary if they had the means to be otherwise. Very few people are able to resist the allure of money, fame and power. You only have to look at the vast numbers of no-hopers who seek celebrity status and the trappings thereof, without the least means of achieving it apart from prostituting their dignity.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that the Murdoch press, in fact the press in general, has behaved and continues to behave abominably, but I think if other people were doing the job, they would not do it any differently.

    However, if you want a free press, you must expect the media to push the limits of that freedom as far as they possibly can. Freedom includes the right to titillate and if it is titillation that the public want, which is apparently the case, titillation is what they will get.

    Personally, I am not against a certain level of censorship, as long as the authorities censor the right stuff and conform to my views. Inevitably, though, once the wedge has been put in place, it is only going to be hammered deeper.

    The outcome that I hope for in this whole debacle is the downfall of the Murdoch empire, which to my mind has far too much power in Britain and around the world.

  3. I also watched the hacking scandal unfold. It was appalling. Most especially the way the police handled the original problems – or rather did not handle them.

    While we all may agree that we need the Press to unearth scandals like the MPs expenses and we may also agree that the Murdoch Empire has far too much media power around the world – we shouldn’t forget that it is a business and businesses are there to make money, and businesses make money by providing their customers with what they want… and Murdoch has done that in spades – as have the banks, Apple, Microsoft and many other big companies.

    Corporate Greed with no moral boundaries is the order of the day. If it weren’t we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in.

  4. With the rise and rise of e publishing, newspapers will shuffle off into the dusty wings of history any day soon now. They will be replaced by content led e publications where the reader can dictate what they want to read. Examples are appearing as aps on the iPad already and I use one now to great effect. I have no interest whatsoever with the parade of a, b, c and z list types who parade all over the red tops at the moment and in, Hello, Now, Here and Goodbye or whatever they are called. If we are a civilised society then the salacious story will shrivel away through disinterest, but if we still crave them then it will be by our own request that they flourish. Anyone care to make a bet on the outcome?

  5. Thanks for comments. Sipu – I don’t have some rose tinted view of human nature; if anything, I totally agree that it is liable to become corrupt, but is this not more grist to the mill of the old left wing argument that market forces; consumerism or capitalism or whatever you want to call it, should not be the guiding light of society? Celebrity yoof culture and prostitution do not shock me, but what really has sent shock waves around the world is the way in which this hacking business has sort of shone a spotlight on the shadowy world of the chattering media classes. Plus ca change, as they say: poison and pistols may be a thing of the past – apparently – and technologies have obviously changed, but the dubious, visceral morals of the elite intelligensia remain very much the same.

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