News of the World closure ‘a gross over-reaction and major blow for British journalism’

Nigel Green
Nigel Green
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Former Sunderland Echo crime reporter Nigel Green now works as a freelance journalist and his clients have included the News of the World. Here he gives his views on the scandal.

NO journalist in their right mind would ever defend phone hacking – particularly when it involves innocent families of murder victims, of soldiers who have died in Iraq.

But I strongly believe that the closure of the News of the World is not just a gross over-reaction, it is also a major blow for British journalism.

Some may scoff at such a suggestion or think I only make such a statement because I’ve been paid by them over the years.

Well firstly, despite what people think, national newspapers don’t pay frontline journalists a great deal of money.

I could make a lot more money, a lot easier if I switched to the cushioned world of public relations, writing PR spin for big companies or organisations.

But I don’t and the main reason is because I honestly believe that newspapers like the News of the World do an excellent job in telling ordinary readers what is really going on.

One of the most sickening aspects of this saga has been the long line of politicians and celebrities who have hailed the closure of the News of the World as good news.

You have to ask yourself whether these rich and famous people merely hated this newspaper because, all too often, it showed them up for the lying, cheating hypocrites so many of them are.

Murdoch has been forced to take this action by a hysterical bandwagon made up of sanctimonious luvvies who sneer at tabloid newspapers and their readers.

Yes, anyone who hacked into the phones of innocent grieving families deserves to be prosecuted but the appalling irony is that most of the journalists now losing their jobs weren’t even at the News of the World when all this was going on.

Meanwhile, the woman who was in charge at the time, not only gets to keep her job - but also to head up a company investigation.

In the 26 years I’ve been in the industry, more than 99 per cent of journalists I have worked with have been honest and, like me, have only resorted to underhand tactics when it has been in the public interest to do so.

The industry has been cleaned up massively since the wild days of the 1980s.

What most people don’t realise is that the far bigger threat facing journalism is actually the culture of obeying authority and never taking risks that has taken over in so many newspapers.

We have to be very careful that we don’t end up with a media industry full of robots who obey orders and regurgitate press releases because it is the safest thing to do.

If we want to live in a genuine democracy where ordinary people find out about things that the rich and powerful don’t want them to, we have to have journalists who are willing to stick their noses where they aren’t welcome and, occasionally, use underhand methods to expose wrong-doing.

Over its history, the News of the World has carried out some fantastic investigations and exposed many criminals and hypocrites.

It’s a huge shame that all that good work is now being killed off simply because of a small rogue element within the industry.

Many will mock but this is a bad day for journalism and, more importantly, democracy.