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.
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.