THE FACT THAT THOUSANDS OF POUNDS were approved by Sun executives as regular payments to corrupt officials in return for ‘information’ has largely come as a complete surprise to me. You cannot be a journalist without soon discovering that a significant number of highly placed individuals within Britain’s establishments expect a quid pro quo in any dealings with the Press; but in all my forty-odd working years I can honestly say I have never once paid any of my sources for their information – and I do not personally know of any colleagues who do.
I have no compunction about reimbursing sources their expenses; buying them meals; treating them to a drink; or paying for their cab fares – but I sure as hell would never pay them for information; because that is the one way I am most likely to hear what I want to hear. Paid informants lie, and the greater the payments: the more they are encouraged to do so – and the more likely they are to use their positions to create events that might lead to a lucrative tale.
I am actually quite baffled by the revelation; particularly since one presumes we are not talking about amateur journalists here. We can surely assume that these individual reporters obtained some sort of training and were supervised by an experienced editor. Or was Murdoch’s power such that all responsible journalism was ditched in favour of column inches?
For me, this is the most serious matter to have been revealed by the Leveson Enquiry; because a journalist’s prime responsibility is to his readers and the public at large. To think that any fellow journalist has resorted to protecting corrupt officials while their overriding duty is to expose such people for what they are strikes at the very heart of everything I personally hold most dear about the profession. And the inference that these ‘sources’ have been protected under the cloak of journalistic privilege leaves me absolutely speechless.
Rupert may have chosen the correct time to be absent from US soil as Sue Akers addressed the enquiry; because her revelations provide damning evidence for the Federal case that is underway there against News International.
Look out for the NYT coverage…