Free Range Journalism

Some years ago I campaigned to stop the building on a city park. Many of the arguments that were thrown at us are eerily similar to those being kicked around regarding press freedom.

It’s mostly about the dangers of freedom.

But it is dangers that help us to evolve, indeed, you could argue that they are inseparable.

We were told that open spaces were dangerous.

That paedophiles hide in trees.

That parks have to be safe for people to use them.

Utter nonsense.

Parks are about escape.

They are about allowing people a level of control: on what they do, where they go, what they can see, who they asociate with.

They are also about openness. Allowing people to behave as they choose makes them visible to all, so they tend to behave better.

In the 18th century, street markets were filthy noisy places, but they were also open to all. Cities started building indoor markets to control standards, behavior, but people opposed this.

They felt safer out in the open, in the wind and rain.

Britain has some of the worst, most gutter rolling newspapers, but it also has some of the most enlightened, intelligent and moral press.

The journalists and others accused of phone hacking, bribery etc who are now on trial are there because of good journalism.

The open press throws up some horrors, but that is what some people choose to buy. the public are free to support or to reject it.

I am sometimes appalled by the rubbish that gets printed, but like the behaviour of some people in open spaces, that is the price we all pay for freedom.

What other profession- the law, medicine, banking, is so good at exposing its own failings as the press?

It is not just what it does sometimes, it is what it is.

Journalism is about spreading information, ideas, entertaining us, making us laugh and cry.

It has to stay free to find its own truths, or it will cease to be.


11 thoughts on “Free Range Journalism

  1. The significant score line so far is:

    Journalism (bottom feeding) – 2 suicides resulting from harrassment of self in one case, and family in the other (daughter of late film star, and son of Glasgow parents whose daughter was villified as a bully after she had been murdered – by The Press)

    The Public Interest – touched up pic (false halo suggesting blue rinse) of Chris Jefferies suggesting he is an old Queen (so he must be a murderer) and ditto of Peter Tatchell (newsroom – applied “lipstick”), so he must be – pick any sin: neither found gulity in a court.

    I gave up reading newspapers 30 years ago when their editors (but not some of their jeering staff) failed to see 10,000 people march down Fleet Street; my opinion was affirmed by the Independent publishing an entirely false article about the Spitfire in 1996. Be they as free and open as they may be, I shall believe what I can corroborate.

    Leveson was NOT a waste of time and money. We “Plebs” (or those who have time on their hands) were able to see the pantomime parade of crocdiles and hook handed sailors that pretend to be responsible guardians of public taste, morals and cheap consumerism. Guess what – they have wrinkles just like us.

    Have Fun


    • Thanks for this, and to a point I agree, but much of what Levison complains of is criminal behaviour and there is precious little criticism of the law acting on the press.

      the press also fail to report a lot. the BBc employs a lot of people with physical problems but not with mental illnesses. they also ignore the horrors of local councils.

      and I find oit ironic that the paper so much maligned was once the most popular on the planet. rubbish sells. sadly.

      What you saw little of wsa the brave and intelligent journalists who work incredibly hard and often risk their lives to get the news out. and kirsty young broadcasting on the twin towers whilst she was worried about her husband being one of the victims was impressive.


  2. As I said, it was bottom feeding journalism that got us Leveson, and my abiding impression of watching about a third of the enquiry was that the muck came mostly from the London based tabloid newspapers. There were a few memorable two – liners like Mr McMullen’s pride at getting a “paedo” beaten up, and Sienna Miller musing that the “only thing that made … legal” her being chased down a night time alley by ten young men was the fact they carried cameras. Citizens paid for all this nible effirt, by buying the crap that resulted.

    Clearly, much of most professions is staffed by competent people with (at least some) scruples – even teaching, banking, government, sports administration, or whatever is your demon group. Otherwise, there would be no healthy body for the parasites to feed on. But it’s a dumb parasite that kills its host, and HG Wells summed up history as a “race between education and disaster”.

    All of us “see little” of what other peoples’ professions do ‘on the inside’: the hard work, courage, stark choices between advancement and honesty. I could tell some stories, like anyone else, and it stands to reason that what happened where I worked could happen elsewhere. But Leveson happened because the proverbial few in this specific profession took the piss, yet again, so everyone had to stay after school.

    Will anyone out there put it in black and white that fearless investigative journalism justifes, for example, a family being fed false hopes or a lost young woman killing herself after being splashed on the inside pages, or by any group in society (politicans and polce included) acting above the law that I (and you) am expected to honour? Surely, the whole balancing act that Leveson attempted was aimed at securing the first and avoiding the second? For the record, I beleive the only way we can get this is by having people with integrity throughout the media (perhaps the McMullens of this world should stick to running pubs), OR, we all think for ourselves and stop buying muck newspapers. It’s a long shot; I am not holding my breath.

    It’s good and right that we argue. My uncle bought us the right and the duty to do so, at Normandy. So long as we expect to enjoy freedom, we must fight for it. The easiest blow of all is to keep your money in your pocket until something worthy comes along. It was a pity about the Guardian and the Independent – but they decided not see the demonstration I witnessed, and not to properly research a historical set of facts with which I was well acquainted, respectively. I found them out because I was looking where they had closed their eyes.

    In the intervening years, IT and digital media have happened. We could see Ian Tomlinson struck down and Simon Harwood make his way from the rear to the police line. When we read the verdict, we could form our own conclusions from what ordinary people recorded. The future is always different.


  3. I love the idea of a responsible, courageous press, wedded to the researching and printing of the facts, as I love the idea that tomorrow we could all wake up to find there are no warplanes, ships, or vehicles – and no need of them. I love the idea………………….

    Following the Spitfire article in a 1996 June edition of the Independent, I wrote to its credited author, Jonathan Glancy, c/o the editor. Several rewrites got the historical corrections down to one side of A4 at 12 point. I gather from subsequent research that Lord Clark had written a similar (but less factual) rebuttal. All my facts were checked – some against autobiographical works by people who were there.

    The “author” replied, enclosing a copy of his “original article”, which was possibly twice the length of the one printed and completely different in tone. It seems a completely new article was produced in house, tailored to a half page space
    It would have been better to note the upcoming anniversary airshow and leave it there.


  4. What goes for national journalism is part of the sickness of society. Local journalism is okay but national journalism is a prejudiced source of deceit, manipulation and error. I have no problems with the press being managed and made accountable because they are irresponsible pits of sewage.


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