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“Crusading” News of the World or “sanctimonious” Guardian?

Written By: - Date published: 4:00 pm, July 11th, 2011 - 22 comments
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In today’s DomPost Andrea Vance has a tell-some-of-it op-ed piece about her days working in the Scottish edition of the News of the World. In it she says  “it was The Guardian that has, rather sanctimoniously, pursued the News of the World.” I’ve been following this story closely and found that put-down offensive.

Andrea Vance describes how:

“I’ve signed kiss-and-tell deals in an interviewee’s home while rivals were leaning on the doorbell, trying to up the bid, yelling numbers. Sources were babysat at secret locations for days – sometimes weeks – on end. More hours than I’d care to count were spent sitting in cars outside houses in case another hack came to knock on the door. Bewildered ordinary people thrust into the news were hounded into telling their stories with exaggerated tales of what might happen if they didn’t “set the record straight”.

But then she goes on to say:

“The News of the World built up a formidable reputation in its 168 years for aggressively pursuing the truth, shining a light on hypocrisy and championing the downtrodden and the victims of injustice. Some of the proudest moments during my time at the paper were giving a voice to someone who was powerless against or exploited by authority. That crusading journalistic spirit was the backbone of the News of the World – I hope it isn’t the greatest casualty of all.”

I don’t know if Andrea has worked at the News of the World since Murdoch took it over in 1969. What I am sure about is that journalism doesn’t need News-style crusading in the Murdoch fashion, harassing bewildered ordinary people.

And not just ordinary people.  This story in the New York Times tells how Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World, and now Murdoch’s priority, treated Claire Short, pictured on the front page, who had the guts and the principles to resign as a Minister over Blair’s invasion of Iraq.

At a lunch in Westminster, Ms. Short mentioned in passing that she did not care for the photographs of saucy, topless women that appear every day on Page 3 of the populist tabloid The Sun, “I’d like to take the pornography out of our press,” she said.

Big mistake.

“ ‘Fat, Jealous’ Clare Brands Page 3 Porn” was The Sun’s headline in response. Its editor, Rebekah Wade (now Rebekah Brooks and the chief executive of News International, Mr. Murdoch’s British subsidiary), sent a busload of semi-dressed models to jeer at Ms. Short at her house in Birmingham. The paper stuck a photograph of Ms. Short’s head over the body of a topless woman and found a number of people to declare that, in fact, they thoroughly enjoyed the sexy photos.

Crusading journalism? I don’t think so. Here’s Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist whose persistence over several years led the dam finally breaking telling the story of how it unfolded.

On the other hand, Andrea Vance says:

And yes, I’m aware some pretty dubious and underhand things went on in the pursuit of truth.

But there’s not a sorry in her story. Judge for yourself which form of journalism you prefer and where the sanctimony lies.

22 comments on ““Crusading” News of the World or “sanctimonious” Guardian?”

  1. ianupnorth 1

    The Sun and the News of the World were also the purveyors of lies in relation to the Hillsborough disaster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_Disaster#The_Sun_newspaper

  2. seeker 2

    Charlie Brooker writes about the “lasty News of the World ‘ being decidedly odd and smelling as though it had been strangely scented by “rose petals”:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/10/charlie-brooker-news-of-the-world

    Perhaps Andrea Vance, who has just lost any credibility she had left as a worthwhile journalist in my opinion, “scent” the rose petals!! Read Charlie Brooker’s comment for the reality check.

  3. Mike Smith 4

    Here’s another take on the Guardian’s crusader role from the New York Times: “The Guardian stayed on the phone-hacking story like a dog on a meat bone, acting very much in the British tradition of a crusading press, and goosing the story back to life after years of dormancy. Other papers, including The New York Times, reported executive and police complicity that gave the lie to the company’s “few bad apples” explanation. As recently as last week, Vanity Fair broke stories about police complicity.

    Mr. Murdoch, ever the populist, prefers his crusades to be built on chronic ridicule and bombast. But as The Guardian has shown, the steady accretion of fact — an exercise Mr. Murdoch has historically regarded as bland and elitist — can have a profound effect.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/business/media/a-tabloid-shame-exposed-by-honest-rivals.html?pagewanted=2&hp

  4. Vicky32 5

    I have recently read Nick Davies book, Flat Earth News – it’s brilliant…

  5. Red Rosa 6

    Nothing like a free press to bring out the best and worst.

    Hypocrisy enough to go round twice here. The Sun supported Blair, and there was hardly a chorus of complaint from the Labour Party then. And the record of the London tabloids is one thing, the record of the ‘serious’ press another….. check out a few of the Times stories on Germany, from the late 30s….

    Back to the NoW –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14077634

    Food for thought.

    And then, of course, if people didn’t want to read it, they didn’t have to buy the paper…

    Maybe the worst aspect of the current scandal is the payoffs to bent coppers in Scotland Yard.

  6. Rich 7

    They were in league with corrupt cops in 1967 before Murdoch took over.

    The right-wing media and the right-wing governments of the UK are in a symbiotic relationship.

  7. Frederick 8

    I much prefer the sactimonious Guardian (my all time favourite newspaper) then The Sun and News of the screws who trade in muck raking, human misery and jingositic twaddle. I felt that Andrea Vances put down was most unfair and as a journalist she should be praising the Guardian for doing what a good newspaper does – search for the truth, Not a trait the likes of The Sun are known for.

    • Frank Macskasy 8.1

      Indeed.

      The NotW simply got a taste of the “medicine” it dished out, by the bucket-ful, to others.

      I feel sympathy for the workers – many of whom probably had nothing to do with the phone-hacking and (alleged) police bribing – but it seems that the NotW was becoming a law unto itself.

      Personally, I hope Murdoch’s quest to buy BSkyB is rejected. But more than that, I hope his media empire is taken apart, but by bit.

      If ever we had an example of “Power corrupts, and absolute power…” then this is it.

  8. prism 9

    The item on how Clare Short was harrassed by The Sun was amazing. The unswerving determination to follow their own hedonistic approaches is the perfect reverse of the fanaticism of religious prudes and the puritanical righteous as they attempt to prevail with their unshakeable rigidities. We have seen in the USA the righteous harrass funerals, abortion clinics etc. It is the same intolerance and inability to see anybody else’s point of view.

  9. Billy Fish 10

    I suggest you down load and listen to the latest edition of the BBC radio4 “The Now Show” for one of the best bits of commentary on this debacle.
    Once again a coemdian being the voice of reason and truth.
    The royal jester can say more truths

  10. Irascible 11

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2013310/Rupert-Murdoch-says-Rebekah-Brooks-priority-faces-police-quiz.html

    The print edition also carried a story about Brooks as a journalist that revealed that her reputation as a reputable journalist was ill deserved built as it was on self serving self interest to gain power inside the Murdoch establishment.

  11. Red Rosa 12

    Not forgetting the Dirty Digger’s US operations. Here is an interesting twist

    http://www.alternet.org/belief/151585/why_rupert_murdoch_love%24_god%3A_world%27s_biggest_sleaze_mogul_also_getting_rich_from_christian_moralizers/

    Ya just gotta luv those bible-bangers!

  12. Carol 13

    And here’s another Guardian article, showing just how NoW targetted Gordon Brown, and also indicating that The Sun and the Sunday Times are also being implicated.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/11/gordon-brown-children-news-international

    No one was safe from the journalists and investigators of Wapping. Not even the country’s prime minister.

    Brown has now revealed that his infant son’s medical records were obtained by the Sun. And the paper went on to publish a story about the child’s serious illness.

    Brown’s tax affairs were the subject of computer hacking. Lawyers were fooled into handing over details from the files.

    The sheer scale of the assault on Brown’s privacy is mind-boggling.

    And there’s more on the lengths the NoW and other papers went to in order to undermine Brown & Labour. This happened over a long period, and included targetting Blair & his team. However, the scale of the targetting of Brown by NoW and other papers is extreme.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/11/phone-hacking-news-international-gordon-brown

    The sheer scale of the data assault on Brown is unusual, with evidence of attempts to obtain his legal, financial, tax, medical and police records as well as to listen to his voicemail. All of these incidents are linked to media organisations. In many cases, there is evidence of a link to News International.

    This doesn’t surprise me because I was aware of how much the UK news outlets were undermining Brown when it was happening.

  13. Tom Gould 15

    Is this the same Andrea Vance who, in a sychophantic gushy puff piece on ‘the media’s new darling’ compared the perfectly darling Key family with Labour which “isn’t seen as a family friendly party – its image of unionists lacks warmth.” Vivid shades of the Wade treatment of Short? Not sure where she turned up from, but she can leave her tory tabloid tricks back in Scotland, in my view.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      yes because all the ‘Family Friendly’ parties in the world seem to want to cut healthcare, cut education, cut wage rates, make it impossible for a single parent to stay at home and look after a child such that both parents must work to make ends meet. And even then, barriers (ECE cuts etc) are put in their way.

      The Right wing are the most family unfriendly, yet we have allowed them to trade on their PR created image of ‘family friendly’.

  14. Snelly Boy 16

    One of the major political stories of the year and no posting from that political junkie DPF!

    Perhaps the challenge of defending the indefensible is just a step too far or is he embarrassed that his “good friend” Cameron has been caught with his pants down.

    • Tom Gould 16.1

      No surprise that Slater and Marshall are keeping a low profile on this one.

  15. Anyone who saw the Melvin Bragg interview of a dying Dennis Potter
    (1994) would realise what a dangerous vile man Murdoch is. He as never backed a Left -Wing cause in his life . And as the late Dennis Potter stated in the above mentioned interview “Is the most dangerous man in the world.

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