19 July 2011

It's for your own good

I will take this opportunity to point out that several of my comments on the Peter Hitchens blogs about the 'hacking scandal' are being censored

Literally all I did was point out to people Guido's interesting post obtained via the Information Commissioner's office regarding the press and recorded offences of 'blagging' - that's it, in fact I didn't even mention details, but advised people to seek out information on the blogs

Absolutely nothing libellous, offensive, rude etc nor is anything in Guido's chart, it's all freely available government information - yet it didn't make it through

When I made the comment (which is often found on the Hitchens blog from a variety of posters) that my posts were disappearing without notice, this too failed the mods - I deliberately kept it that brief because I was pretty confident it would happen, I don't know of a way to prove this, I'm not that tech-savvy and didn't bother taking a screenshot, but I am hopeful a couple of other people had the same problem

I am not outraged by this behaviour - I think it perfectly reasonable that a company choose not to publish harmful information about itself - that's the job of others - isn't it?

Not if you listen to Hitchens arguments, last week he was warning us of the big bad politicians and how they need to be held to account

All true, but as we've just seen - nobody is holding the press, who lie, cheat and flout the law, to account and I can see no condemnation of this behaviour from Hitchens - he seems to take a 'better the devil you know' approach, and seems to justify the culture of silence between the press as a necessary evil to maintain commercial success

If we criminalise the press, and take away a vast resource of information from them (the tabloids at least) then they will not have the power to scrutinise the government

But I'd like to know who is meant to scrutinise the press - controlled by a tiny elite, they have vast power themselves and arguably papers like the Mail have a detrimental effect on our society by reducing debate to that of childish name-calling and scaremongering, we need these publications and they need to be allowed to do what they want? It's all for your own good you see

Hitchens, supposedly a man of strong moral conviction (something I've always questioned seeing as he opts to work for probably the least moral paper of them all), is quite happy to allow the press the freedom to make up s h one t, so they can make money and scrutinise the politicians, but yet won't allow people on his own blog to scrutinise one of the most powerful and influential industries in our society? The press do not scrutinise themselves ('dog eat dog'), that would just bring chaos - so how exactly do the public bring newspapers to account? They can't, which is why this hacking scandal has been quietly kept away from the public for the best part of ten years

Nobody is denying that politicians are scum, but the media are also scum, and it can quite easily be shown that the law has been violated for decades to make grubby stories about royals and celebrities to line pockets 'hold the government to account', this is not a price we must pay - scrutiny of the press will not bring about a North Korean situation, in fact the British press is infamous for it's cut-throat behaviour, you don't find it in perfectly free countries like the US, Australia, Japan or Sweden, a few ethical rules, such as those that we are supposed to already have and don't enforce, would quite easily control them

The real truth behind this is that the press in Britain need to behave in this manner to be successful, not because nobody would pay them without their gossip/nonsense, but because competition is fierce - Britain has a huge amount of national dailies, all vying for a piece of a dwindling readership - they need to be shocking, and therefore their tactics verge on the desperate - if the Sun doesn't do it, the Mail, or the Express, or the Mirror will

Whereas, in Australia for example there is only one populist rag - the Telegraph (or it's local NI equivalent), then there are two 'high-brow' papers - one left, one right - all controlled by one of the two main media players

While we're on it, virtually nothing the press do scrutinises politicians anyway, 'investigative journalism' essentially means celebrity/royal sex scandals - in fact I am struggling to think of an example of illegal activities bringing us a story for the public good (eg expenses scandal, WMD) - public interest arguments easily override this anyway, the crux of Hitchens defence (which I regard as a squeal) is that they need to be able to generate revenue, but the revenue is fixed - they just compete for a share, and in doing so engage in a race to the bottom (declining moral standards eh?)

Proper rules would not stop scrutiny, I find that scenario incredibly hard to believe when our media is so powerful anyway - it would just rid us of a few silly newspapers that are, in essence, solely there to sell smut

Losing a few unpopular (intelligent) papers might be bad for decent opinion you might say, but there'll be no trashed murder victims either

I know I have posted a few times before regarding Hitchens, first I lost respect, then I came to see him as a troll, but now I'm struggling to even take a word he says seriously - this act of self-serving deflection and hiding behind supposed 'freedom of the press' and an Orwellian nightmare is pretty abhorrent

Actually why do I keep going back? Silly boy