A guest post by Samuel Miller (Macart)
Yeah, so the circus that is memogate rumbles on in the form of a possible slap on the wrist for the Telegraph.
This is expected to be delivered by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) apparently. An article in today’s National (*) covers the ground on the whole ‘sorry’ mess far more effectively and comprehensively than needs repeated here, but that it should take such an effort to elicit any kind of apology from a member of the press says something in and of itself.
Where did it all go wrong with our fourth estate? When did they stop being our watchdogs, our guardians and start running with the foxes? Has it truly always been this way, or was there a time when they performed an essential public service? Have we simply in more recent times had the scales lifted from our eyes?
The media were meant to hold corrupt and inept politics to account. On the flip side, they were meant to bring to our notice the good as well as the bad in our governance, to provide balance. Except they don’t appear to do that, do they? Our media seems to be failing us badly just when we needed them most. Their owners and publishers allowed a heady mix of personal agendas and political affiliation to colour everything. Not unexpected you might say. Indeed there is absolutely nothing wrong in the press having their own editorial opinion/political direction. There’s no such thing as a truly objective point of view from anyone and it would surely take a will of iron to produce positive articles about people you consider to be your ideological opposition or whose policies may affect your corporate interests. But what happens when it runs out of control? What happens when caution and professionalism is thrown to the wind in favour of an editorial slant?
Isn’t an attempt to provide balance and professionalism the very thing which would give the press a moral authority? The ability to rise above personal beliefs and agendas, give credit where its due, report facts instead of unverified hearsay, empathize rather than sneer and dissect rather than smear. To put aside your personal beliefs and adhere to a professional standard. Aren’t these the very things that would give people a reason to trust and invest in their media?
We live in a sound bite age where the headline (or the bottom line) has become more important than the content and shock value more important than research and verification. This is a world where spads, politicians, self interest and personal agendas live. Its a world where public manipulation is easy, far easier than say professional, moral and ethical codes. Far easier than having those politicians produce better policy to combat their opposition or have a staff member verify a fact at source or as close to source as possible. Its a world where the powerful and influential live and a world where if you have the money and the connections, you rarely have to say sorry for the harm you may cause others.