The most surprising thing about this News of the World business is the original research that they spent so much effort and money on!

I thought that the current definition of "newspaper" was "a place where corporations and lobbyists pay to have their press releases published". Well, here's one that seems to have not worked that way.

Aside from their research methods being illegal and probably immoral, that's a little bit like journalism, isn't it?

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30 Responses:

  1. David M.A. says:

    In the same way that "extortion" and "asking permission" are similar in theory but not in morality or legality, I suppose.

  2. I agree that, in and of itself, I'm not especially worried by reporters using sharp methods to get stories. After all, I could hardly support Wikileaks coverage and the Pentagon Papers on the one hand, and decry the News of the World on the other.


    News of the World have pretty much never broken a meaningful story. The didn't break the MP expense scandal, or the super-injunction scandal, or pretty much any other major story in UK politics in decades. All they do is dig around and fuck over mostly ordinary people or irrelevant celebrities.

  3. Jesper says:

    Slight humanity mismatch aside, they were to reporting what Mengele was to science.

  4. Jeff says:

    I think if they used these very same tactics in breaking stories about widespread government corruption, horrific power abuses or the like, these journalists would be celebrated.

    Since the average person doesn't openly approve of the sorts of ends the News of the World went for, they can freely criticize the means and come off as somehow more noble. Case in point, the pro-Wikileaks, anti-NotW post above. "It's morally correct so long as I agree." and all that standard bullshit.

  5. Ronan Waide says:

    What seems to have been their major undoing is crossing the line from observer to actor (insert quantum physics caveat here) by deleting messages off an abductee's voicemail so they could collect more. I'm sure this could be compared to, say, Deep Throat wiping the missing 18 minutes of Nixon's recordings in the hope of getting something jucier, etc.

    Aside from that, I have a holier-than-thou abhorrence for tabloids in general, so mostly I've been reading this coverage with a constant Nelson Muntz "ha-ha!" in the back of my mind.

  6. Scott says:

    I dunno, I think it's the difference between tabloids and newspapers. The normal newspaper gets everything it wants and needs from the wire. Tabloids need all sorts of stuff that AP doesn't care about, so they're in the habit of finding it on their own.

    • hattifattener says:

      …Where does the wire get its stuff? (I mean, besides press releases and blatant fabrication.)

      • David M.A. says:

        The AP wire is generally regurgitated articles from member papers, sent across to all other papers who buy into the wire.

        • hattifattener says:

          Well yeah, that's my point, which maybe I was making a bit elliptically: the "normal paper" and the tabloid both have to do some actual news-gathering. Scott seemed to be saying that a respectable paper would never tap phones because it would simply get all its news from the wire.

  7. Apparently, breaking the law to find information people want to keep private doesn't automatically make you a hero.

    Hollywood, you lied to us!

    • k3ninho says:

      Fox / News International's movies lied to us (among other movie studios).

      I'm staring down my own hypocrisy on this one: I root for AnonSec, LulzSec and others whose illegal activity also serves as political protest and calling for people to raise their game. Those guys, I tell myself, are doing it for good; NoTW, for selling newspapers and garnering public significance to manufacture consent (I'm quite the free-loving hippy, aren't I?).

      I'm also holding my breath: what happens to the state-run prosecution and justice process against News International, Rupert & James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks when Anonymous attempt vigilante justice?


      • jwz says:

        When confronted with moral dilemmas like this I'm always reminded of the episode of The Tick where Tick is on trial, describes his exploits, and the prosecutor says, "Why, that's the worst kind of vigilanteism!" Tick replies, "No Sir, that's the best kind of vigilanteism!"

      • >AnonSec, LulzSec

        Because Bethesda software, Minecraft, The Escapist, and EVE Online are all such bad, bad people.

        I noticed that a lot of gamers who condoned the Fox News attack started to change their tune when LulzSec attacked Sony, and people who condoned the Sony attack started to cry foul sometime around the first week of not being able to play LittleBigPlanet. You know that old poem "First they came for the communists..."?

        The problem is, anon isn't about "justice". It's about vengeance for the loss of something they had no real right to in the first place, Linux on the PS3. It's not like you can't run Linux on everything but your toaster now, anyway.

  8. BTW, does anyone know if by 'phone hacking' the journalists actually mean 'four digit password guessing'?

    • Lawrence says:

      Yes, yes they do.

    • DFB says:

      In some cases the passwords were alleged to have been 'guessed' with the help of co-conspirators working for telephone companies.

    • Shandrew says:

      Or even easier, run your own SIP server, fake callerid, and don't even bother with a password.

      Actually, I think there may be some CLOUD SERVICES that do that for you nowadays.

  9. Michael Buckley says:

    This whole affair makes plain that a newspaper doing "Real Journalism" is indistinguishable from an intelligence service. The collapse of investigative journalism has been a detente or disarmament between the corporate powers. With Wikileaks, the detente is no longer a guarantee of privacy and may no longer apply.