Lib Dems, our press and gutter journalism

December 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

This is a difficult post for me to write.

For years I worked in journalism, as a Broadcast Journalist with a group of radio stations in the West Midlands.

I still (for no payment) write a weekly column for my local newspaper, the Hinckley Herald and Journal, and broadcast on the local community internet radio station.

However, today I am ashamed of my former profession-not because of my track record but because of the actions of the ‘undercover reporters’ who believe it is o.k. to pose as the constituents of MP’s, record what are supposed to be private conversations and then leak them out into the full glare of publicity.

In my opinion that is a gross distortion of what journalism is supposed to be about.

Good journalism is about holding the powerful to account, in public open debate; not in secretly trying to get any tittle-tattle going to try and embarrass one certain political party, to further your own-or your owners-agenda.

Whatever the rightness or wrongness of what the Lib Dem Ministers had to say, the fact is that, to my mind, this kind of reporting is just about the lowest form of gutter journalism.

I’m all for a free press-of course I am-but not at the expense of Government Ministers, MP’s or, indeed, anyone in elected office, being able to talk frankly and freely to those who elected them and who they are in power to serve.

Undercover journalism may, in certain specific cases, be justified if there is alleged wrong-doing or criminality on behalf of a public figure.

But that was quite clearly not the case here.

I would allege it was about a certain paper-with its own agenda and priorities-trying to embarrass one political party and to cause damage to it within the Coalition.

These ‘journalists’ and their Editor’s may have won a partial victory, but not a full one by any means.

Vince Cable is still in office and will, after-perhaps-a period out of the spotlight,-come back to press for what he believes in.

The Lib Dems remain full partners in this Coalition and will continue to be so.

And Vince Cable and Nick Clegg will be remembered long after the names of these non-entity ‘reporters’ have been forgotten.

§ 2 Responses to Lib Dems, our press and gutter journalism

  • Neil Baker says:

    In possible defence of the two journalists who posed undercover (actually, for all we know they may not be journalists as such, would make it easier to pull off the bluff), if they were ordered to do it, in the current environment within the media their options may have been to do it or face starting 2011 unemployed.

    Even worse, if the Telegraph had focussed on the Murdoch comments, they’d be in a far better position to use the “public interest” defence due to his quasi-judicial position (which he no longer has, of course) but they didn’t. They, for whatever reason, opted for the sensational route and that’s not something the Telegraph has built a reputation on. Then again, it stopped being the “house” publication of CCHQ quite some time ago,

    However…and there’s always one of those…I think the Lib Dems will actually emerge from this in a far stronger position. Knowing ministers share the same fears as the membership may reassure existing members, perhaps attract back some of the potential voters opinion polls claim have been lost since May, and start the new year – and the build-up to the May elections – on a better footing.

    A PR coup for the Lib Dems. If it wasn’t through the Telegraph, my “what a piece of spin” detector would be off the charts!

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