Sunday 5 September 2010

Tabloid Phone - Hacking

This story has re-emerged in the news this week.

A former News of the World journalist has come out claiming that its former editor Andy Coulsen who's now the Tory Party’s Director of Communications knew about the practise, despite previously denying all knowledge of such activities taking place.

Coulsen is now facing renewed pressure to hold onto his position in government because of these new allegations.

I touched upon this subject last year in a blog I wrote titled: Journalism back in the gutter!

This is what I said about phoning-hacking and the News of he World:

He [Coulsen] was the Editor of the News of the World at the time of this phone tapping scandal, and resigned as a result of it. He claimed that he personally didn’t know that this type of activity was taking place.

I think that if he didn’t realise this was going on, then he wasn’t doing a very good job as editor, but he must have been aware of the general culture within his newspaper and the industry in general when it came to finding news stories.

Because the reporter who made the allegations against Coulsen was sacked from the News of the World, he's being dismissed as a former employee with a grudge, but Andy Coulsen has again come out to say he didn't know or sanction phone - hacking when he was editor.

This story is back in the news following an investigation by the New York Times which looked into phone-hacking in the British press.

One thing I didn't realise is that earlier this year a News of the World reporter was suspended for this very practise, and a legal case is being brought against the paper on this issue. This suggests this has been going on for years.

I found this out from reading one of my favourite blogs: Tabloid Watch, which looks at the reporting of the British press.

What's interesting which Tabloid Watch and a few other journalism blogs have noted, is that a lot of the national papers are ignoring this story.

I wonder why this is? Why are they being so quiet? Could it be because phone-hacking is a practise that's commonly known about and used amongst sections of the national press? I think so.

Papers usually take great pleasure in the struggles of their rivals, but at the moment we're not hearing other sections of the press condemning the News of the World. Even in today’s Sunday Times there was nothing on the story.

I’m now wondering whether this story is going to disappear again like it did last year, or if it’s going to stick around and develop.

What I do know, is that it’s putting even more pressure on Andy Coulsen. If it’s found he did know about and sanction phone-hacking during his time as editor of the News of the World, it's going to be difficult for him to hang onto his job.

Not only would it be a huge blow to the government, but it would also question the judgement of the Prime Minster David Cameron in appointing Coulsen in the first place.

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