Friday, 22 March 2013

Press Transgressions In Perspective Point To A Shared Common Purpose

Unfocused Met PoliceI AM A VERY PROUD MEMBER of, what I consider to be, the very best union for British Journalists, the BAJ. Compared to the NUJ, of course, it has a very small membership (some 2,000 to the latter’s 38,000) but I thought it might be interesting to use that combined figure of 40,000 to try and place into perspective these revelations by the Daily Mail.

  • Around 200 Scotland yard officers are now employed on three investigations relating to allegations of phone hacking: that is one officer for every 200 registered journalists, many of whom are students.
  • (To place the 200 officers figure into perspective: only 30 officers, or 15% of that figure, have been installed upon the Operation Yewtree investigations into Savile).
  • So far, the total cost to the taxpayer has been £17.5 million: that is £437.50 for every journalist and serious student in the UK.
  • The investigations are set to last for at least a further three years (in which some journalists will continue to be placed under police surveillance) at a cost of £40 million. That will bring the total cost to exactly £1,000.00 per UK journalist.
  • The overall costs from the establishment of the Leveson Inquiry (mid-July 2011) until 31 October 2012, was a total of £5,098,600.00. (Its final costs were to be published in January 2013; but there is still no sign of that figure emerging).
  • So far, 108 people (of whom 70 are journalists) have been arrested: just 70 from some 40,000, or 0.175%; and that produces a total cost of over half-a-million pounds (£644,265) for each arrest – in which the vast majority will have no further action taken against them.

So, the politicians went to the trouble of creating a Royal Charter, to muzzle all the UK’s Press, based upon the activities of 0.175% of UK Journalists – punishing the remaining 99.825% for their innocence, and for bringing the transgressions to light!

It is now evident, from online newspaper comment sections, that the initial outrage over the phone hacking scandal that was eagerly seized upon by the politicians and their celebrity friends to promote their secretive agenda, has largely settled down and the public are starting to concentrate on the facts. The political and celebrity trolls that generated all the original hysteria have retired after the hastily approved Royal Charter’s details were made available online, and the public were able to read its contents for themselves.

I cannot remember any time when there has been such an outrageous act by the political classes to deceive their electorate – nor any such anti-democratic attempt by them to remove the last remaining vestige of freedom of expression that this country enjoys. Few would disagree that Common Purpose is now so entrenched within the traditional political establishment that it will take a very brave leader indeed to cull it.

As Rupert Murdoch has pointed out, the proposed Royal Charter has no chance of succeeding unless all parties to it agree – and it also requires the Queen’s signature whom, blessedly, ‘does not do politics.’

It is time, as one commentator has put it, for the Press to take-off its hair-shirt and apply itself to what it is paid to do, and do what it does best: publish and be damned. No more cow-tailing to the PR factions that only use our circulations to hood-wink our readers – and no more opting for the soft option because the lawyers ‘see problems’ with what we would publish.

It is time to reappraise our priorities and ensure that our readership’s interests are always put first.

Newspaper proprietors, editors, journalists, reporters, photographers, columnists – and the UK public that we serve: WE ALL HAVE A COMMON PURPOSE NOW!

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