Back in England the news is all about the scandal over ‘phone hacking’.
The story particularly focuses on the british Sunday paper The News of the World, one of the oldest newspapers in the world. and part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International Group.
Day by day new information has been coming out about what some of its journalists were involved in.
At first it seemed the hacking just involved extracting salacious information about celebrities. The real scandal began when it was discovered that the phone of a missing teenager, later found murdered, had been tampered with. Her messages were being read and deleted, giving police and her parents the belief that she must be still alive and reading her texts.
Then the sluice gates opened. Information started emerging which made clear that this course of action was widespread, including amongst many others, or so it is alleged, the families of victims of terrorist attacks, the families of soldiers killed on active duty and many others.
Within days, News International had announced the closure of the News of the World. Reporters and executives began being arrested. Several key figures resigned.
Murdoch himself was called to appear before a parliamentary committee. Perhaps worst of all it now appears that some journalists were obtaining illicit information through the police, information for which it seems some corrupt policemen were being paid – even a member of the Royal Protection Squad. Last week the Chief Commissioner at Scotland Yard, Britain’s most senior policeman, has resigned. Politicians too look likely to be dragged in, even the prime misnister. Many, including prime minister Cameron has enjoyed far too cosy a relationship with the press, especially News International, perhaps turning a blind eye to suspicions – conscious that the press wield the power to win and lose elections.
I have been amazed at these stories. Reporters do have to sometimes take risks and sometimes tread difficult boundaries – especially if tracking down stories which are in the public interest. But if half of what is currently alleged turns out to be true, truly the world of British journalism has been rocked. And questions are now being asked about some of Murdoch’s other media interests in other parts of the world.
The Omineca Express may not have the two and a half million circulation enjoyed by the News of the World but we are conscious of our responsibilities to this community. Where there are issues which need to be brought in to the public domain, where there are things that demand public exposure we seek to do so. However, in pursuing our role in this town we can guarantee that a proper journalistc ethic is top of our agenda. No phones are being hacked – even in the unlikely event that we had the technological expertise to do so. No money changes hands. Appropriate privacy codes are adhered to and those in the midst of suffering and crisis can expect the respect they deserve.