Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hitch-22

I'm currently reading Hitch-22 - the autobiography of Christopher Hitchens. It's rather a heavy read at times but he's a serious man and an acute observer. The cons of ploughing through sections about student politics of the left are far outweighed by the pros of his other observations.

I'm just reading about his time as a budding journalist on London newspapers of the early seventies. The British press has been making the news as opposed to reporting it for some time here in the UK. The scandal of the UK wing of the Murdoch media empire hacking into the voicemail messages of absolutely anyone they could in an attempt to trawl up a story is well documented.

A particulary sordid aspect of this activity was that whilst those journalists were melodramatically reporting stories about child murder victims in their newspapers, they appeared to be simultaneously doing their utmost to hack into those same victims' mobile phone messages in at attempt to spice up their storyline.

Christopher Hitchens writes about the contempt and indifference of many journalists to the plight of people in stricken circumstances (this was over thirty years ago) and observes how compassion or sympathy for victims was rarely allowed to get in the way of a good story.

When visiting the homes of distressed families, journalists would travel in pairs. When invited in and courteously offered a cup of tea, one journalist would join the family member in the kitchen to "help" whilst the other journalist would rifle through the family possessions or try to steal photographs of the victim.

The unofficial motto of the foreign correspondents' desk, when travelling abroad to visit war-torn or other riven societies was "Anyone here that's been raped and speaks English?" Plus ca change it seems.

3 comments:

Terra Shield said...

How terrible!

Nota Bene said...

That's bad. Rally bad.

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