At a conference of bloggers the weekend, amongst the general loveliness of it all, there seemed to be one or two notions about journalists and journalism that gave me cause to sigh deeply.
As someone who has, over the years, worked for, among others, The Daily Star, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Expires, The Sunday Express, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Record and The Sunday Mail, I’m probably qualified to share a few observations.
- I have never hacked any one and neither, as far as I know, has anyone else I know. Hacking is not rife.
- People are routinely paid for stories but it doesn’t mean the stories are less valid than free ones.
- I have never blackmailed anyone for a story and neither has anyone else I know in an industry I’ve been in for 20 years.
- Stories are routinely leaked by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.
- Whatever the source stories are checked for veracity.
- There are so many good true stories there is no need to made anything up.
- Journalists from tabloid and broadsheet newspapers do the same job, it’s the writing style that differs.
- Newspapers are products that must sell.
- As with any other profession, journalism has good and bad operators, ethical and unethical.
- There is a code of practice and most people follow it strictly. Same goes for PCC guidelines.
- When anyone publishes anything in public no matter where our how, it cannot be unpublished and the author must take responsibility for it.
- The distinction between the public interest and what interests the public is very blurry. And it has to be entertaining to a degree, after all copy in a newspaper is called a story and the TV news is a show.
- Journalism and journalists are not the same. Harold Shipman did not affect public perception of all doctors.
- Journalists aren’t generally in it for the money, because there isn’t very much.
As most bloggers do it to write, to share and because they think they’ve got something the world might be entertained by, in many respects, they are no different to journalists. They tell the truth and have no interest in breaking the law.
I’m not saying “like me I’m a journalist”, rather “if you’re a blogger you’ve got an inquiring mind, use it to establish the truth”.