Journalism after Phone Hacking – Professor Stewart Purvis

How will the phone hacking scandal effect Journalism? What will be the outcome of the Leveson inquiry? Professor Stewart Purvis, Professor of Television Journalism at City University and former Editor-in-Chief of ITN talked about Hackgate at a recent Coventry Conversation.

Stewart explained that by adding the word ‘gate’ to a word, it tells the reader that: “The story has become a scandal.” He started by asking the question: “What will be the legacy of hackgate for journalism?” and went on to say that: “Hackgate is far from over.” as the Leveson Inquiry continues to investigate the whole scandal and is still in its early days.

Stewart described how: “Twenty-Eleven has been the year in which journalism is followed by the word regulation,” and introduced the audience to the subject by saying: “Welcome to the wonderful world of media regulation.” The Leveson Inquiry included two days of seminars in which the judge tried to get: “Theatre.” As said by Stewart and also to let everyone have their say.

Written by Alex Maidment – First year student

“What is the main problem for which Lord Justice Leveson and his panel of six members are trying to find the solution?” asked Stewart. He then furthered the question asking: “Is it the failure of the police to investigate properly the series of crimes, or is it the failure of the system of press regulation, self regulation which the press jealously guards to itself?” Stewart then said that if you were to ask some of the public that have good knowledge of the scandal, they would probably say it was a bit of both but in the inquiry, a couple of the editors were pushing the concentration of the inquiry onto the police.

One of the big questions that needs to be addressed is whether James Murdoch was aware of the legal advice which News International received about the fact there was evidence of illegal action of three journalists. The answer to this question should come to light within the next week.

Stewart moved on to say that half of Leveson’s new questions for the inquiry are under: “Culture, practice and ethics.” and with this he mentioned how there is a lot of talk about newsroom cultures.  He quoted a former Daily Star reporter, Richard Peppiatt, who said: “The job is about making the facts fit the story because the story is almost pre-defined.” when defining a Tabloid newsroom culture during the inquiry. Stewart said that a lot of people in the media lie which brought up the idea of what can be done to prevent new journalists picking up bad habits. Some of the ideas were contracts under editorial rules and to teach young learning journalists about ethics.

He finished the Coventry Conversation by talking about how hacking is over since the exposure and said there is a: “Fear of getting caught.” and this is why people won’t do it again. He was then asked if ‘hackgate’ would permanently damage journalism to which he replied: “I suspect not, a Journalists reputation is recoverable.”



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