Archive for the ‘MPs’ tag
- Take a popular press whose circulations are falling, who are panicked about not being able to publish salacious stories about the sex lives of celebrities, and who glimpse a way to rid themselves of pesky legal constraints
- Add judges, roughly grated by the press and politicians, who can see little public interest in knowing whether footballer X slept with reality star Y and, as a result, create precedents by passing judgments on a series of such cases
- Mix in some wild technology whose roots aren’t in the UK but can grow prolifically anywhere
- Throw in some fresh picked MPs with concerns about free speech and keen to get in the good books of the popular press
Bring to a simmering boil and wait to overflow
Ready to serve with a garnish of phone hacking
Goes well with libel reform soup, contempt of court casserole, and self-regulatory souffle.
Do not add government or may become an Eton Mess.
Though we don’t yet know the long term effects of the MPs expenses scandal we already know it has had a very positive impact on journalism.
Despite the resignation of the Speaker, Michael Martin, the repercussions of this story will take a long time to play out for MPs and the political process. ‘Much much more needs to happen if MPs are to get out of the expenses morass’, Peter Riddell writes in The Times. And later in the same paper Daniel Finkelstein wonders if MPs have really yet understood what a profound impact the information revolution has had – and will have on politics.
But some of the beneficial repercussions on journalism are already apparent. For one thing it has reminded people – print journalists in particular – that not only are rumours of newspapers demise greatly exaggerated, but that they can genuinely hold politicians to account, and catalyse root and branch reform.
The expenses scandal has been a shot in the arm for public interest journalism. It has shown that political news can sell papers (the Telegraph has, according to Media Guardian, sold 600,000 more newspapers), that a newspaper (as opposed to a website or blog) can lead the news agenda for days – weeks – on end. And it has shown that the role of journalism as watchdog is alive and well.
This will not only put a spring in the step of political correspondents but make all journalists more conscious – and prouder – of their trade. It will help remind journalism students about why they’re going into a profession that has – in so many other respects – such an uncertain future.
All the better that the story has been owned – quite literally – by the conservative (Conservative?) bastion that is the Daily Telegraph. A paper that appeared to have lost its way politically and journalistically. The Telegraph has now found its voice – and found it in 130+ point type.
It is not yet clear whether this story represents a flare in the embers of newspapers that are already dying, or whether it represents a revival of the – often idealised – the Fourth Estate. Whichever it is, journalists should take a moment to reflect on a good time for public interest journalism.