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Friday, July 25, 2008

Privacy laws? Good idea

The Daily Mail and the News of the World are unlikely bedfellows but today, following the hearing in which Max Mosley won his privacy case against the News of the World, the Mail and the other papers are screeching about how it might pave the way for draconian privacy laws.

Good.

Now this wouldn't have been my stance a few years ago. As a trained journalist, I was all for freedom of the press and proud of the press we had in the UK.

But now? Well, the papers didn't even seem repentant last week when Robert Murat won half a million pounds because they made up stories about him in connection with the Madeleine McCann case. Yes, made up stories. Unheard of a few years ago except in papers like the Sunday Sport.

The truth is that Britain's press has become entirely inconsequential. How many papers honestly have world exclusives these days? How many genuinely reveal stories that are in the public's interest (rather than providing titillation, in the case of the NOTW, and the Mail in its salacious repeating of the story today)?

Answers on a postcard.

Recently I mentioned to a French colleague how our papers, including the broadsheets who are frankly just as bad, swoon over Carla Bruni's every move. She gave a shrug and said the French weren't bothered about Madame Sarkozy. Nor were they bothered when President Mitterand's mistress turned up at his funeral. They didn't care that he had a mistress, if they knew at all. Imagine what would happen here. I do remember in fact "Paddy Pantsdown" as the memorable headline which ended the career in UK politics of Paddy Ashdown.

A few privacy laws might do us all some good. It might free celebrities and royalty from paraparazzi everywhere they go, and put an end to the cruelty of pictures appearing in national papers pointing out celebrity cellulite or "curves."

Maybe with less trivia in the papers they would have to go back to being proper journalists, stop rehashing stories from their competitors (on Mondays the Daily Mail serves up everything that was in the Sunday Times) and stop trying people before their cases have been heard in court (let me suggest a couple of names: Robert Murat, Colin Stagg).

Finally, I heard the NOTW's lawyer bleating yesterday that Mosley wasn't fit to shake the hands of royalty around the world and lead the F1 gravy train. Oh yes? And I'm sure that the overpaid pampered men who live and work in the F1 world, with access to dozens of eager groupies, are all squeaky clean! Next joke please.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Isn't a major part of the problem down to the reader? As you said about Carla Sarkozy and President Mitterand's mistress the French were not bothered. Here we all seem to take great delight in taking other people apart - and the richer and the more famous the better; or at the other end of the scale - the weaker and more disadvantaged the better. Is this because we have all forgotten how to live ourselves?

Gadget

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