The news has broken in The Guardian newspaper that the News of the World used private investigators to hack in to peoples’ phones. Whilst it was known that News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed for four months in January 2007 for plotting to hack into telephone messages belonging to royal aides it now appears that this illegal activity was far more widespread.
It is alleged that thousands of politicians, business people, show business names and sports stars were also targeted in this way. Furthermore News Group Newspapers - part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International empire which publishes the News of the World - paid out more than £1 million to settle cases that threatened to reveal evidence of journalists hacking into telephones...so this goes right to the top.
Of course News Group Newspapers and News International is a massive empire that takes in the Wall Street Journal, New York Port, Fox News and in the UK The Times and The Sun. Also Murdoch owns Sky News and on its morning shows the journalists were clearly embarrassed and keen to stress the political angles of the case. Andy Coulson, Conservative leader David Cameron’s director of communications, was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when journalists were using the private investigators but resigned when Clive Goodman was jailed.
Now by chance I was going to write about journalists today because there have been recent sackings of staff at Europa Sur in Algeciras as well as at Diario Sur in the port town. This is a subject I have covered oft times before and in the case of Europa Sur relates to the disgraceful actions of the Joly media group in dumping staff piecemeal whilst at the same time organising lavish banquets to celebrate its anniversary.
Journalists and newspaper staff are under threat throughout the world because of the economic crisis and unscrupulous employers. Honest journalists are laying their lives on the line every day in trouble spots such as the Middle East, Iran, China, South America, Russia and closer to home with coverage of the ETA and IRA terror groups.
However in the public mind this will count for nothing. As in the House of Commons expenses scandal all politicians suffered even those who were whiter than whiter. So too in the world of journalism the abused, those who work under the threat of death will be tarred with the Murdoch brush and the perceived value of our collective work will be further diminished.