http://www.smh.com.au/national/just-a-slip-of-the-pen-and-ahah-the-plot-thickens-20111018-1lymn.html What possible benefit would news organisations gain by duping their readers, listeners and viewers? Most base their whole ethos on their integrity, and the trust and faith placed in them. That integrity is the basis upon which they have built their reputations - not to mention their income and their future. Trust is the core of their business. - Judy Prisk, Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 2011
What possible benefit would news organisations gain by duping their readers, listeners and viewers? A monetary one.
Newspapers have from time to time deliberately lied to their readers. It's even better if you can find a broader and wider target which can't defend itself, because that way there are even any legal ramifications either such as any possible defamation or calumny cases which might follow.
I mention this today on the anniversary of a day of infamy in journalism. Part of the articles are reproduced below:
Some thugs rifled the pockets of injured fans as they were stretched out unconscious on the pitch.
Sheffield MP Irvine Patnick revealed that in one shameful episode a gang of Liverpool fans noticed that the blouse of a girl trampled to death had risen above her breasts.
As a policeman struggled in vain to revive her, the mob jeered: ‘Throw her up here and we will **** her’
‘As we struggled in appalling conditions to save lives, fans standing further up the terrace were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead.”
The fans were just acting like animals. My men faced a double hell – the disaster and the fury of the fans who attacked us."
- The Sun, 16th April 1989.
All of the above was completely baseless. The whole thing was made up purely to sell newspapers. By demonising the fans of a football club, the Sun probably sold a few more million copies that day.
The media, most notoriously the Sun, carried smears against the supporters, citing senior police sources, which Taylor later ruled to be without foundation.
- David Conn, The Guardian, 12th April 2012
I do happen to have a copy of the Taylor Report and indeed The Sun's article is reproduced in full. Most of the report talk about stadium design, but some of it does have to do with establishing why it happened at all. It would appear that South Yorkshire Police were hopelessly under trained in how to deal with this sort of thing and the Taylor Report does suggest negligence on their part, but mysteriously the CCTV footage which would have been crucial in proving this, went missing on the night of the disaster.
Also it would appear that The Sun was probably fed leaks from within both the South Yorkshire Police and the then Thatcher Government. Either way, the Sun's editor in chief Kelvin MacKenzie went to print anyway in spite of actual evidence.
"As MacKenzie’s layout was seen by more and more people, a collective shudder ran through the office (but) MacKenzie’s dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in except Murdoch. (Everyone in the office) seemed paralysed, “looking like rabbits in the headlights”, as one hack described them. The error staring them in the face was too glaring. It obviously wasn’t a silly mistake; nor was it a simple oversight. Nobody really had any comment on it—they just took one look and went away shaking their heads in wonder at the enormity of it. It was a “classic smear”."
- Stick It Up Your Punter, Peter Chippendale & Chris Horrie, Heinemann, 1990
The Sun did officially apologise but only on the 7th of July 2004, some fifteen years later and even then the editor in chief Kelvin MacKenzie refused to show any remorse whatsoever:
"I went on the World at One the next day and apologised. I only did that because Rupert Murdoch told me to. I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now because we told the truth."
- Kelvin MacKenzie as quoted in the Liverpool Daily Post, 1st Dec 2006
"I'm not saying I was wrong, I'm saying I don't have to say I'm sorry"
- Kelvin MacKenzie on BBC1's "Question Time", 12th Jan 2007
People's memories run deep though and before the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Everton, posters were held up for the "Don't Buy The Sun" campaign. It would appear that ultimately, that telling lies has possibly resulted in almost a quarter of a century of lost revenue.
Ms Prisk's opening statement that integrity and trust is the basis upon which newspapers build their their reputations, income and future, but the example of The Sun shows that if a journalist gets a bent and is blatantly unrepentant for what they write, then truth, integrity and trust may as well be like a chasing of the wind.
What possible benefit would news organisations gain by duping their readers, listeners and viewers? A monetary one. Writing lies if you can do it properly, sells media and advert space; ethics can go jump. Justice in the interim, dies.