Monday, September 10, 2007

Journalism and news

I am something of a news and information junkie. If there is nothing much on television I will normally tune into a news or documentary channel rather entertainment.I used to watch Sky News, because I thought they were quicker with breaking news than BBC News 24. But, since we get our digital TV from Virgin Media, we no longer have Sky News due to the dispute. Still, the BBC does not usually disappoint.

Recently there was an incident which affected someone of whom I knew. It was a matter of public interest and was picked up by the BBC, on the News 24 channel at least. The next day I scoured several quality newspapers for updates and found no mention of the story. This may, of course, have been for legal reasons. Which started me thinking about the implications of journalism, about what can and what should be printed or reported. For someone who can write, journalism of any kind might seem like an easy option, but there is so much more to it, so many legal and libel implications. Not just in respect of news, but in any piece where you are giving information and indeed any facts, which should be scrupulously checked for accuracy.

The recent media circus around the family of Madeleine McCann has reinforced my worries. Of course her parents courted the media in the early days and so cannot really complain now that they are becoming targets of the press. But, without making any presumptions of innocence or guilt, it reminds me uncomfortably of a book I read many years ago for my degree: The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum by Heinrich Boll. (For those who know German, Boll should have an Umlaut, but I don't think I can type that and somehow Boell doesn't look right at all!)

You probably won't have read the book or seen the film based upon it, which actually came out in 1975. But in the current political climate post 9/11, the underlying themes of the press destroying the life of a potentially innocent person, who has briefly associated with a criminal/terrorist, seem just as relevant today as they did then.

Three notable things:

1. I reached my work target for the day.

2. I sat though a meeting this morning and realised the chairperson had taken on board the contents of an email I sent last week, even though I had received no reply.

3. I completed the first exercise for Susan Hill's course.


Anonymous said...

It is a good feeling when your views have been listened to and taken on board!

I keep thinking about the media coverage in the McCann case and how they did encourage it in the beginning. Difficult really.

Crystal xx

merry weather said...

I remember reading that book - although sadly I can't recall the story. I think watching the McCanns now is like witnessing people being tortured. I'd bet my life they've done nothing wrong...

Cathy said...

It was a meeting about local services for autism, Crystal...

Merry, I can't remember much about the book either, but isn't it funny how something current can suddenly trigger off an old memory. I had to Google it to see if my vague recollection was correct!