When the images of Mungo, Partridge and The Woman on the Left are no more than reminders on a visual hacking timeline I hope journalists can enjoy an industry that is reformed, radical and read.
Now is an exciting time for journalism – despite the attacks on us, the jealous wannabe journos insulting us on Twitter. We’re seeing a potential return to traditional news values in digital form: when journalists didn’t fear being partial and subjective but wrote about topics more important than a celebrity’s weight gain. We’re seeing a potential return to writing stories which stem from the community and are more interested in people’s views than chasing a profit.
It’s a time when political activism and journalism is revealing inequalities and injustice, as Annie Besant did, as George Orwell did, as John Pilger did and, whatever you make of him as an individual, as Assange did when he worked with the New York Times to expose journalists and civilians being killed by US troops in Iraq in 2007.
Journalists today exposed the MPs expenses, it is journalists that exposed hacking at the News of the World, journalists that have exposed and demanded a discussion of police brutality, global occupations and revolutions.
The establishment has every need to feel afraid. It’s no surprise we’re being painted as the enemy because this is convenient: if we’re dismissed as scruffy yobs rifling through celebrity bins then the public won’t trust us when we expose the rubbish of the powerful.
Even sitting here, in my jamas, I can use my journalistic skills to enjoy writing, share my opinions, add to the exposure of Currie’s attitude towards the poor in this country – and talk about my cat. But we don’t need more citizen journalism and blogging – we still need vigorous training, for journalists to use that training to investigate and report on issues in a way that is interesting and of value to readers.
The old journalism of chopping down trees, distributing reams of paper, door to door deliveries might be dead but journalism isn’t. It’s more exciting than ever.
Good journalists still find an issue, or it is brought to their attention (without listening to personal phone calls), and they investigate it, doing their best to get a variety of opinions then integrate those opinions into a news report which is of value to readers … you can’t do that when discussing the colour of the lycra stretched across Madonna’s gusset. Or they share their experiences and opinions from an intelligent, informed perspective.
And while modern speeds of reporting might lead to errors these are easily corrected if they’re honest mistakes, not deliberate silliness.
We need critical, investigative journalism that keeps the powerful in check and the sort of training that would make a trainee journalist confident beyond writing about celebrity lifestyles. We need this, we need journalism, not for all journalists be used as scapegoats.
There is no question that the hacking is repugnant to readers and journalists alike but Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan can’t dictate how journalism works – adding to the voices of ad executives and businesspeople already ruining the trade.
Celebrities might fear embarrassing stories but a good journalist couldn’t care less about who Steve Coogan sleeps with – but while news is profit-driven, run by businesspeople not journalists, and the news of the screws sells papers, then owners will want those stories. A shift towards good journalism could even see poor journalists fall by the wayside.
People enjoy eye-witness, up-to-the-minute, fast-moving news: the riots alone proved that. Local newspapers used Twitter to keep their thousands of followers informed, then again to tell what was going on in court and now, in some cases, are contributing to the discussion of the injustice that took place during arrests and sentencing. This is traditional journalism working in a digital age.
I genuinely don’t believe everyone wants daily exposure to which celebrity is going into the jungle, which has lost weight or split with their celebrity lover, whether eating red food while wearing green will give you cancer or if a footballer had sex.
I genuinely believe the vast majority of people in this country want something worth reading.
Plans today: Complete job interview preparation and, of course, watch the news and view some papers online. I’m now watching a BBC report on concerns about the type of tear gas being used against protesters in Egypt – which I first read about last night on Twitter