Thursday, 9 July 2009

Hush money may be worse than phone tapping

There have been surveys that tell us which professions are popular and which are not. Particular careers may be popular because they have a high salary or because there is a high demand for such careers or because these careers are held in high esteem. If we put careers into a popularity league table then some careers would be in the relegation zone. Politics would be a consistent contender but there is one career that may be even less reputable. Journalism.

In the news this evening (8th July) is the claim that The News of The World have been tapping phones and paying victims out of court settlements to keep quiet. If there is any truth in these allegations then we really have to question what kind of state we live in. This is not an example of the police tapping phones to make life more secure for us. Newspaper reports tend to hurt people because sensationalist news is profitable. The 'investigations' by journalists are often defended because it is in the public interest to know about the private lives of others. It sounds to me like criminal investigations should be taking place. We hear stories of photographers hiding in trees or harassing famous people by chasing them as a pack as their victim walks down the street.

We often hear the defence that if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear. This argument is used for CCTV cameras, ID cards and newspaper articles. The trouble with this argument is that we are all human, and even if we are doing nothing legally wrong we may be embarrased by what we are doing. You can make up your own examples of how embarrasment may apply to you. The point is that newspaper tapping must not be allowed. If there is hush money floating about then those giving and those receiving it may be doing something worse than tapping phones.

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