Thursday, 8 December 2011

How did we get here?

Lord Justice Leveson has been looking at the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press for what seems like years now. The flood of news about who did what to whom has been washing over a (probably) desensitised public, and the newspapers involved have simply reported what has happened to their competitors and not to themselves. It's all a bit shabby to say the least.

So how did we get here?

I don't care about the corporate scandals and the hurt celebrities, I want to know what drives an otherwise free thinking and honest journalist to become a hack... someone who thinks that reporting on a stars visit to casualty is acceptable because they are a star.

We all have internal inhibitors and external inhibitors. The internal ones could be something as simple as a strong moral code, a way of being brought up, a good definition of right and wrong. The external inhibitors are the moral codes of the wider population, the laws of the land... oh, and physics.

So imagine that you're a fresh faced journalism graduate who really wants to get ahead and get noticed. You start work in a newsroom where there is a slightly flexible view of what is right and wrong... this may resonate with your internal inhibitors... so you start with a little bit of florid writing when actually the story isn't that great; your boss likes it and you feel rewarded at having a skill that they want and they ask you to keep it up.

You, however see that people who go a little bit further with the 'sexing up' get a better response, they seem to be doing better than you. Maybe you move the internal inhibitor that stops you making things up because you're in an environment where the external inhibitor is moving away from you at a pace.

Suddenly you're rooting through bins and hacking phones because what was once an invasion of privacy has become second nature, there is nothing inside or outside that is stopping you, you won't get caught because there's nothing to be caught for, the boss loves what you're doing and you're getting a shed load of stories and cash... brilliant!

Then you're in front of Leveson telling them that everyone does it and that it's quite normal.

It's easy to think that through a process of pushing moral boundaries, and removing your own inhibitors that any one of us could become a phone-hacker.

It's even easier however, to say that they're just a bunch of sh*ts... It's just not as compassionate.

You can decide for yourself.

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