I am a print journalist and proud to be one, most of the time. But, as the Leveson Inquiry systematically dissects our industry, exposes up some of its malodorous workings, we are moving from guilt and shame to bombast and bluster, and calamitous warnings that democracy dies and communism takes over when journalists are scrutinised. ( I paraphrase) Trevor Kavanah, associate editor of the Sun led the counter offensive after the police, now on their own, long overdue investigations into illegal tricks of the trade, arrested some News International journos. What self-regard, righteousness, pathetic moans and theatrical flounces. One was reminded of MPs who fiddled expenses. They didn’t set much sympathy from hacks then and a good thing too. Now journalists want to be judged by different standards, even different laws, and they conceal their hypocrisy under the gowns of liberty.
Like my peers I am also a newspaper reader and there are times when I hate the monstering of individuals and groups , the chase, the hunt, the kill. Not the stalkers and nimrods who expose corruption, shady dealings, human rights violations, political mendacity and lies as they do, every day in our papers. Journalistic opposition to the war on Iraq was relentless and not even Alistair Campbell could make us behave. After 9/11 and the London bomb attacks, unlike in the US, every British newspaper behaved with integrity and temperance. But every day I also see unforgiveable invasions of privacy into the lives of famous people. And much worse, people being lied about, or misrepresented, deliberately and cumulatively so that public opinion turns against them. If you are not white you are wary about the British press and afraid of it. Exactly ten years ago, Leon Wieseltier, an American literary editor wrote a scathing indictment of the Spectator and British press in general when it came to migrants: ‘Democracy is not threatened by strangers, it is threatened by the refusal to accept strangers and to treat them fairly. And by the horror of their difference’. Things have only got worse since then.
To cover stories of real brutality, criminality, dangerous social customs and values is a sacred duty of journalism and no group can be spared our prying, questioning eyes. My concern here is with unjust journalism which allows its victims no voice back. They say we have to take the bad with the good. Why? Bankers and politicians could ask for the same deal too.
In the months of meticulous evidence gathering and cross examination at the inquiry there’s been no mention of race and ethnic bias, the demonization of asylum seekers, migrants and blameless Muslims. They are marginalised and invisible. Others too, whose actual exclusion is deepened by the failure of powerful people to notice it. Today the poor and unemployed of Britain are hated and denounced, humiliated and accused by the nasty media and other citizens. Last week Edwina Curry on Five Live savagely went for an unemployed woman and made her cry. Would she dare to treat Fred Goodwin in the same way? There was an uproar. Right wing print journalists are infamous for such hard talk and no one objects.
For non-white Britons, coverage has been bad so long that a fatalism has set in. Way back in 1997 in UnTold, a style magazine now folded, Lenny Henry, Ozwald Boateng, Linford Christie and Jazzy B talked candidly about the press badmouthing black people and its effect. Studies at Glasgow and Leeds Universities show how scare stories about immigrants seep through and eventually create unshakeably negative views. In Pointing the Finger, a book on the reporting of Muslims by Julian Petley and Robin Richardson, examples are given of published prejudices and fabricated stories, including the Daily Express article on piggy banks banned by banks because they offended Muslims. Most of the ‘threat to Christmas’ stories are fictional; innocent ‘terrorists’ are named and shown, and when released the news is not covered. Mr Kavanah’s high and mighty Sun told its readers that the horrific killings in Oslo last year happened because Norway stood up to Muslims, implying the killer was a Muslim. It was, in fact, a hard-right white fanatic.
When Ian Blair, erstwhile Commissioner of the Met, said good-looking, white murder victims got vastly more coverage than those who were not, he was hammered by the right wing press. He was right. The old Press Council, though inept, did accept third party complaints against unfair stories. Black and Asian Britons had an unlikely champion then- Bob Borzello, a tough Chicagoan who complained to the regulator about every racist or unfair report. When the Press Complaints Commission was set up in 1991, third parties could no longer complain. A Cardiff School of Journalism investigation recently found serious exaggeration, stereotyping and inaccuracy in the coverage of asylum seekers. So how does an asylum seeker, wrongly exposed as a ’scrounger’, get any redress? Or migrants accused of being disproportionately on benefits, a bogus story passed by this government to friendly journalists?
If the already powerless are once again unheard, their welts unseen, the whole process will fail to protect those who are most in need. There is still time for Leveson to attend to these continuously maligned people. I hope it happens. The reformation will only be worth the time and effort if it protects both Hugh Grant and a pregnant mum from the Congo.
Published in The Independent male-viagra.com/