Thursday, 14 July 2011

Will #HackGate lead to real change or just more of the same?

I'd love to believe that the revelations about what the News of the World did lead to more significant changes than the closure of that one paper. We all know News International is not the only organisation tainted by the historically common dodgy practices of the media. It's just unfortunately the one bearing the weight of the scandal. Wouldn't it be wonderful for all the dirty laundry to be aired now so perhaps our media can move on to improving the way they work, what they report and the very nature of their business?

But alas I, being ever-increasingly cynical, believe that all that will happen is the politicians and media will bore quickly of the subject and move on to their next "bee-in-a-bonnet" issue. We only need to see what happened with the expenses scandal: a lot of MPs standing down at the 2010 election, a few scalps taken by criminal trials and... then we all forgot about it.

Do you remember how everyone in the country was said to be so angry about at all the expenses scandals? There was almost a feel of revolution in some of the media reports, as if the citizenry might rise up at any moment and overthrow the political class. Of course what was really the case was that whilst the chattering classes (including people like me) were all aghast, most people seemed to just shrug their shoulders, announced that all politicians were corrupt anyway and got on with their lives. Whilst the Coalition that followed the 2010 election was quite unique, the actual votes cast on the day hardly showed any huge backlash against the traditional power structure.

The same appears to be happening with Hackgate. Whilst the politically aware are arguing over Government interference in the media industry and the morals of hacking private individuals phones, the vast majority of the country has expressed a typically British mild disapproval along the lines of "Well that's just not on" and carried on buying their regular newspaper.

Whilst, like the expenses scandal, I expect this to have effects on individuals as well as particular newspapers and organisations, I really cannot believe based on past evidence and an almost universal lack of public anger that this story will change anything in the long term for the industry as a whole. In my opinion this will be just another storm in a teacup, dancing round the edges of a much larger issue.

I hope I'm wrong, and that this spirals into an earthshatteringly pivotal moment in the history of the media, British politics and our country where the way things are done gets better.  But I seriously doubt this will result in anything beyond cosmetic changes such as the News of the World being replaced by a seven day Sun newspaper.

Nothing to see here.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

No comments: