Sunday 4 December 2016

Media's ethics have always come second in pursuit of a good story

Published 05/12/2011 | 05:00

I am not among those calling for the smelling salts following the Leveson revelations about British tabloid practices.

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So the hacks hacked into mobile phones? So what's new already? What is new is the technology to do the hacking, but believe me, 'twas ever thus in the matter of intrusion into privacy, as I learnt during my initiation into the legendary institution of Fleet Street even in its glory days.

I don't think we even considered the word 'ethics'. The imperative was to 'get the story' at all costs. Reporters were given lessons in various ruses to work their way into the lives of those in the news. Should a tragedy occur, the trick was to get into the family home -- possibly through a window -- and steal a family photograph. I never actually got around to doing this myself, possibly because I was never an ace news reporter, but I was instructed in the tricks of the trade just the same. And instruction was sometimes done by example.

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