‘The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial’ is about exactly what is says on the cover. It is a book all about one of the biggest scandals journalism has ever seen. A scandal which has seen people involved imprisoned, a newspaper being shut down and a long inquiry into media ethics by Lord Justice Leveson, which has further led to the closure of the Press Complaints Commission.
It is a scandal which is reshaping print journalism and caused the loss of so much trust from the public. The book gives an insight to the whole hacking ordeal and has information about everything which has gone on so far and is written by numerous industry professionals and Masters students and is edited by John Mair, Coventry University Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Professor Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln.
So here we have this remarkable invention which, at the touch of a button, revolutionises the ways in which we can communicate. It allows the dissemination of information to countless people around the world. The operation can be carried out with complete anonymity. Suddenly, leaking and whistleblowing can be done on a grand scale – so who needs time-consuming investigative journalism? I refer, of course, to the arrival of the photocopier.
It was the photocopier which, in 1971, allowed Daniel Ellsberg, a former US marine commander and Pentagon official, to take 7,000 pages of top secret documents about the US decision-making process in Vietnam and disseminate them, first to The New York Times, then to the Washington Post and finally to a series of other newspapers across the US. In this way he established himself as one of the most significant figures in the history of whistleblowing and leaking. The photocopier was hailed at the time as a fabulous conduit for information, as, in many ways, it was. There must be many grateful journalists who have received, often anonymously, the fruits of some troublemaker’s afternoon at the Xerox machine.
Now, forty years after the Pentagon Papers, we have a combination of the internet, WikiLeaks, Twitter and “citizen journalism”, all changing the ways in which we communicate and digest information. But do they really alter the basics of reporting much more than the photocopier did?
Written by Duncan Campbell – Former Guardian crime correspondent.
ALAN HAS been editor of The Guardian since 1995. Previously he was a reporter, columnist, features editor and the deputy editor of The Guardian. He is a member of the board of Guardian News and Media, of the main board of the Guardian Media Group and of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF of The Guardian newspapers, Alan Rusbridger expressed optimism about the papers future despite reports of significant losses of up to £100k per day late last year and his faith in new media in the face of the failing media business model, at the second Coventry Conversation of 2010 at Coventry University.