Posted by: Khatija on Dec 15, 2011
Memories of Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brook and the News of the World (NOTW) phone hacking scandal are still fresh in the minds of many.
Following widespread controversy over the phone hacking scandal at American newpaper, News of the World, Brook resigned as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of News International.
A number of reporters and NOTW employees linked to the scandal were arrested, inquiries into what have been described as “dubious” practices were set up, resignations submitted and newspapers shut down.
A low point for an industry that prides itself in truth, objectivity and high-ethical values.
As much criticism as NOTW, News International and Murdoch received from other media owners, journalists and the public could this just be a case of the pot calling the kettle black?
In a recent article that I read, a former top lawyer who worked for Rupert Murdoch's UK newspapers defended the use of surveillance as a legitimate news-gathering technique.
According to Independent Online (IOL) Tom Crone told a British inquiry on Wednesday (14 December 2011) that there are probably no newspapers in Britain that don't occasionally put the subjects of articles under surveillance.
He said that if a source tells news editors about a pop star or an athlete having an affair it will almost certainly lead to the individual being watched.
This comes to mind as a recent article stated that international and local news agencies have been using hidden cameras to spy on Nelson Mandela's Eastern Cape home.
The news agencies include Reuters, Associated Press and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
AP spokesman, Paul Colford, told The Times that along with other media, the AP has preparedness around Mr Mandela's eventual passing. He justified the cameras, which were apparently not switched on by saying,
'We had similar preparedness outside the Vatican ahead of Pope John Paul II's passing,''
A special police task team descended on Mandela's home in Qunu village to investigate the security breach.
Striking similarities can be reached from London to South Africa and this only reveals that Murdoch's former lawyer had a valid point, many a news agency has and may continue to use surveillance as a story gathering technique.
I, personally, am not saying that this is right but hypocritical of journalists to judge Rupert, Rebekah and crew so harshly when they too may have dabbled in “dubious” schemes –only difference, they were not or have not yet been caught.
The question once again: how low will journalists go to not only get a story but get it first?
Until the next time