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Press Ethics

by ceebs Wed Mar 27th, 2013 at 06:35:16 AM EST

Over the past several months we have had the [UK] press complaining bitterly about the introduction of new regulation. This is both unnecessary and unwanted in their eyes. Depending on the argument deployed, either an outrageous attack on investigative journalism to hide the crimes and misdemeanours of the rich and powerful (which several investigative journalists have said is untrue); or, if you follow their other line of reasoning, entirely unnecessary because due to the loss of readership, there will be no papers in ten years. So any legislation will be a waste of time, and we may as well not bother.

This second argument has a particular, painful moral flaw. As the readership numbers have been falling, the tabloid press has slowly shifted its story-generated attack from those with cash and and expensive publicity machine to those without. Simply put it is easier and cheaper to train their sights on those unable, unwilling, or too far out of their depth to fight back.

This week we have had the Lucy Meadows story as a prime example of the apparent destructive effects of the press, although this link is as yet unproven. But looking at any daily tabloid would find you with the forces of moral opprobrium facing the damaged or despairing as an example of social failing. Single mothers who haven't lived up to the standards of the press, who live in a house that costs too much, or too little, who go out to work and so don't spend enough time with their children, or don't and hence are scrounging scum. Disabled people who aren't disabled enough, because having struggled to overcome a lack of facilities, any success is obviously proof they aren't disabled. And there are casualties of this callous attack beyond the more obviously headline grabbing examples. Newspapers are pushing the line that a large number of disabled people claim benefit fraudulently. This line has been pushed for many years, even though independent assessment has followed the DWP's own figures that say fraud levels are only 1 in 200 claims. Newspapers have pushed a false perception that fraud is widespread to the extent that we now have reports of disabled people being harassed and attacked in public.

The effect of this is that politicians are then taking this line of harassment as an example of "what the people want" when it is in fact little more than what the papers' accountants and lawyers say will be that which will minimise legal costs. Politicians should have the moral backbone to stand up to the press, but as we have seen recently, back room meetings have resulted in them bowing to the press's demands to exclude group complaints from any legislation. Something that might at least make these attacks more expensive. The effect on the balance sheet being the only thing the newspapers appear to understand or take seriously.

Once these stories are published, a single mother or disabled person is far less likely to take a wealthy newspaper owner to court. Firstly it doesn't seem an option to most, unless they are connected into a solid support network, or campaigning group, secondly, it just seems incredibly expensive and thirdly, under the weight of bile pouring from the desks of journalists, many will begin to think this attack on themselves is actually justified.

Is it legal? Yes. Is it anything other than the morals of a schoolyard Bully? Most definitely not.

In the long term, we will see more and more people picked on, for no good reason, as finances get tighter, and as this downward readership spiral continues and there is less cash available to pay for both real journalism and the lawyers to fight off those that can afford to fight back, and those who should be the proper subjects of journalistic investigation.

Arguments that this type of action by the press must be allowed because the press must be free, and without this unethical action it cannot afford to be society's watchdog cannot be allowed to stand. If a paper consists of nothing other than PR stories from companies and celebrities re-written, plus scurrilous attacks on defenceless citizens, then how is the paper fulfilling the purpose of a free press? How is it holding the powerful to account? Even if this did in fact fund investigative journalism, can we justify these citizens as collateral damage to the hunt for immoral politicians? Are we any more civilised than the Aztecs if we allow the weak in society to be a blood sacrifice on the altar of tabloid journalism?

Are we any more civilised than the Aztecs if we  allow the weak in society to be a blood sacrifice on the altar of Tabloid Journalism?

Having the living hearts of drugged media barons cut out and offered to the sun on live and streaming media would be a definite improvement.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 26th, 2013 at 07:09:21 PM EST
It's not just the tabloids.

The Guardian has allowed Julie Bindel to peddle her repetitive transphobic bile for years.

Suzanne Moore was queried about a questionable slur on the transgendered in a recent Guardian article and responded with a whole slew of transphobic abuse. she then wrote an article complaining about being monstered on twitter (huh ? She started it) and the Guardian decided to up the ante by commissioning an article on the affair from the well known transphobic arsehole, Julie Burchill. She duly delivered an article outpouring such outright bile and hatred, printed in the Observer (aka Sunday guardian), of which they are so proud that it is no longer on their website.

If the Guardian are now "supportive" of the transgendered (eg Paris Lees article today on the Lucy Meadows affair), it is only because they have been seriously shamed by their conduct and have been dragged kicking and protesting into accepting we do not exist to be a convenient victim anytime they feel like kicking an inferior.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 27th, 2013 at 08:58:41 AM EST
Just saw a commercial I figured you would like.

For those under GEMA rule:
Coffee commerical, with five different associations as "a good reason to meet" (and drink coffee). The second to last one is the Trans Association Malmö. That is normalisation.

I guess the public dominance of queerfeminism has had an impact. Radical feminists in Sweden are more likely to be found in the shelter movement. And though this of course has its sides (many shelters are rumored to be very heteronormative for example) a volonteer movement can hardly be faulted for what it is not. And as long as society at large refuses to take the necessary responsibility for battered or threatened womens practical possibilities of escape, it is very good that someone does.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 28th, 2013 at 04:09:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As for tabloid ethics, I do not know how you might place into a code of practice that insists that that they reverse their current practice of "kissing up and kicking down". As you say, it's just so much less fraught with the danger of legal headaches if you find some ordinary Joe or Jill who can be turned into "sacrifice of the week" for fun and profit than if you go after someone who might be able to kick back.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 27th, 2013 at 09:03:41 AM EST
BBC News - Three men jailed for selling information to the Sun

A former prison worker and two ex-policemen have been jailed for selling information to newspapers.

Richard Trunkfield, 31, who worked at Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes, was jailed for 16 months for passing on details about one of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables.

Ex-Surrey PC Alan Tierney, 40, received 10 months for selling details about two cases linked to high-profile people.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 27th, 2013 at 06:24:18 PM EST

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