The story that keeps on giving

The latest revelation from the News of the World phone hacking scandal now includes former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. It alleged that The Sun (owned by Murdoch) obtained medical information on his son, who has cystic fibrosis, while The Times (owned by Murdoch) obtained private financial and property details through blagging.

The Guardian reports that Brown was targeted for more than 10 years when he was Chancellor and as Prime Minster. Rebekah Brooks – then editor of The Sun –  is said to have phoned up Brown to tell him that they’ve obtained details of their son’s medical file, who was only four months old at the time.

Gordon Brown and family

He joins the ever growing list which includes many Labour politicians – Tony Blair, John Prescott, Tessa Jowell, Peter Mandelson – as well as Milly Dowler, The Queen, Prince Charles, the parents of murdered Soham schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Champman, relatives of the 7/7 bombing victims, family of the British troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and 4, 000 other people.

Here’s an outsider’s view on the scandal.

Say what you like about Gordon Brown, but to drag his four-month old son into the spotlight – after finding out he had cystic fibrosis, and after the death of their daughter  – is callous and calculated. It doesn’t matter who the victims are now -be it a celebrity, politician, the average Joe – this goes beyond politics. The centre here, and always has been, is morals and ethics.

This scandal will leave a stain on British journalism for many years to come. When the furore calms down, questions have to be raised and debated – without emotion. Will our privacy laws be tightened? How will this affect law-abiding journalists who – like Nick Davis and The Guardian – expose those in power of wrong doing. How can we stop one man and his company weald so much power over the British government? Any why did he scare them so much?

However, recent a marketing survey of 1000 people  found that 34% of News of the World readers were aware of the story and care very much (what happened to the other 66%?), while a fifth said they didn’t care about the scandal and 27% strongly agreed that advertisers should pull ads.

So, do we care where journalists get their stories from, as long as our ever-increasing hunger for exclusives, sex and gossip is fed? Despite the disgusting nature of how a select few managed to get their stories, it sold papers. The News of the World was the biggest selling Sunday paper. It sold 7.4 million papers a week. Britain’s best-selling daily paper is The Sun, followed by the Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror – all tabloids. Are we, as consumers of news, partly to blame for this?


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