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Much has been made this week on the Murdoch’s appearing at a parliamentary inquiry into hackgate: a scandal involving phone hacking and other nefarious practices by the media in order to get stories. What is less getting less to no real discussion is what hackgate says about the UK audience. News International is a business, if the content didn’t sell, they wouldn’t create more of it.
Content that would formerly only air in blackmail cases would appear on the Sunday breakfast table and consumers lapped up the lives of public figures. I am no fan of News Corporation’s media outlets but I feel very uncomfortable about the four-minute hate that is going on at the moment. Lots of people are enjoying the details about the how, but nobody seems to be asking about the why of the whole episode.
Like the war on drugs, the problem isn’t only one of supply, but one of latent and actual demand that will be supplied one way or the other. Whilst there are middle-class people who believe that cocaine is an ideal final course at a dinner party you will have drug cartels. Whilst you have consumers who have a prurient interest in other people’s lives there will be publications that are willing to push the envelope in news-gathering.
Why aren’t questions being asked about the thirst of UK consumers for the kind of stories that hackgate revealed. An examination of society as well as media ethics is called for.
Why did it take the murder of a child (Milly Dowling) to suddenly make the media gathering behaviour move from naughty to wrong in the general public’s eyes? More media related commentary can be found here.
More discussions of note about the case
Monocolumn – High farce lets Murdoch off the hook [Monocle]
RPT-COLUMN-It pays to be Murdoch. Just ask US gov’t: DCJohnston | Reuters
Hunt asks regulators to reconsider News Corp/Sky deal – Media news – Media Week
Murdoch Closing Tabloid Linked to British Hacking – NYTimes.com
James Murdoch accused of lying
UK deputy PM: Chance to clean up press-gov’t ties