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Chris Slatter

My Blog


The Fourth Estate

 Rune of the Day: Ger, Harvest


Everyone except perhaps newborn infants have been following the News of the World-Rupert and James Murdoch-Rebekah Brooks-scandal. One jaw-dropping revelation follows upon another so speedily it’s as if the whole business is being covered by the News of the World itself. But why is everyone so astonished at these revelations of anti-social, perhaps criminal behaviour in pursuit of a scoop?
Where do readers think the stories come from? For 168 years the scandal sheet has been titillating the British populace (all social spectrums, too) and at one stage was selling more than 8 million copies each Sunday, sometimes 9 million if the scandal was juicy enough. Those same people who are gasping in horror at the depravity of the journalists who could sink so low as to hack into people’s voice mail, are the same ones who revelled in the juicy titbits that appeared every Sunday in the paper’s pages.
Foot-in-door, bribe-offering, cynical journalists have been supplying material to newspapers, radio and television for many, many years and we’ve loved it. But you all know this and you don’t need me to tell you because you’ve been reading about it for the past few weeks. What you may not know is what the culture behind the front pages, the radios and the television screens has become. As society’s values have declined, our media has offered a mirror; some would say that the media has led the decline with nonentity celebrities, prurient revelations and obsession with anti-social behaviour. But who is selecting these stories, who has decided that it’s good to humiliate someone in jungle shows, or dwell on people’s failures and shortcomings
in artificial environments? And who is reading, watching and listening?
The media has been selecting for aggression for years resulting in a work culture that is truly frightening. Newspapers and television are no longer the places to send our sensitive and educated best to learn the skills of writing and broadcasting. They will be traumatised by the abuse, or be forever changed. I remember feeling real apprehension for my son when he expressed desire to do a week’s work experience at a television news agency at which I happened to work. I helped him achieve his desire then spent the week guarding him from the many who had tried to savage me. And it has been the same at every media organisation I’ve ever worked at. So don’t be surprised that representatives of our media exhibit behaviour that a few decades ago would have been seen as evidence of mental illness.
There are many to blame for the sort of media culture that has led to the current judicial enquiry into phone hacking. The main protagonists are justly accused certainly, but let’s also include media entrepreneurs, executives, managers and others who have mandated such practices in order to increase audiences. The journalists, too, who allowed and contributed to such a decline in values should share the blame. And finally, you and me, who by watching and reading such rubbish and not speaking up have allowed this disgraceful state to develop and prevail in a once proud and noble profession.

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About Me

I have been an advertising copywriter, film director, teacher of screenwriting and a television producer. I have worked for some of the world's largest advertising agencies in Australia and the UK before attending the London Film School for two years.

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