Celebrity Gossip & The British Press Corruption

12 Jun

2nd. article of our 5 week series on the Starsucker documentary. 

In the Starsucker documentary (click here to view) it discusses how celebrity gossip has taken over fact based news journalism. In this article we hope to look more in depth at those claims and what we can expect for the future. On the surface the News International phone hacking scandal may appear to be just the press using any method available to gather gossip (before another rival does!) for the public’s insatiable interest in celebrities. The truth is it is a much more muddied affair. The scandal and the Leveson Inquiry have revealed corruption between the media, politics and police. This is only a very brief history and a brief glance into the findings!

In an article published by the Telegraph, Dr Matthew Green explains the early beginnings of the modern press. It can be traced back to 1695 when strict censorship laws were abolished. Editors soon found out that unbiased reporting were viewed as boring to the public; therefore they began to lean towards one political party and eventually began to spin or make up the news. This proved successful and readers flocked to taverns and coffee houses to discuss it with each other. Journalists found these places to be gold mines for gossip and would then take the story they over heard back to the editor, who decided if the story was worth printing. The press rarely cared about the consequences of what they wrote. [1]

The first case of the celebrity phone hacking began on the 13th November 2005 when the royal editor of the News of the World, Clive Goodman, ran a story about Prince William borrowing a portable editing suite from Tom Bradby (ITV’s royal correspondent). The pair met to figure out how the information got out. Only two other people knew of it so it was suspected that somehow voicemails were being intercepted. This information was passed onto police and in 2006 found that the cell phones of members of the Royal Household were hacked by the News of the World. In August of that year Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective, were arrested. They admitted their guilt of illegally intercepting voicemails and on the 26th of January 2007, they were sentenced to four and six months respectively in prison. [2] Despite the newspaper claiming that was the only incident, The Guardian claimed that phone hacking was widely used by the newspaper and over the years, they broke more and more stories of celebrity victims (Sienna Miller, Steve Coogan, David Beckham, Hugh Grant and Elle Macpherson just to name a few! See more here). Exactly four years after Goodman and Mulclaire were sentenced, the British police finally began to investigate the claims. This was the beginning of the end for the News of the World. Things were about to become a lot worse.

On the 4th of July 2011, The Guardian published that in 2002 the News of the World had hacked into, at the time, missing murder victim’s (Milly Dowler) phone and claimed they had deleted messages which misled police and gave her family false hope she was still alive. Later on it was discovered that the phone used auto delete when the message box became full to make room for new messages. Still the paper had hacked into her phone which shockingly at the time the police knew about and did nothing but hold a meeting with them. There were massive public outcries which lead Prime Minister David Cameron to announce a public inquiry (an official review of the scandal open to the public with the conclusion of a report that outlines any improvements needed to be made by the government and/or organisations) would take place. On the 7th of July, it was announced that the newspaper would shut down. Also on this day BBC Radio 4 aired an interview with former News of the World features editor, Paul McMullan, admitting the use of bribery on police to garner information. The last edition was printed on the 10th of July. [3]

The inquiry began in November 2011 with Lord Justice Leveson appointed as chairman and six assessors who were chosen for their expertise and their unbiased interests. Some of the key issues to be looked at were the practices of News International (owned by Rupert Murdoch), the police and politicians. 474 Witnesses gave evidence over seven months. On the 29th of November 2012 the final report was published. The Press Complaints Commission (or PCC for short. It is a regulatory body for the British press) was found to be inadequate at their job and a new regulatory body should be set up. This should not be made up by current journalists or Members of Parliament but rather former journalists and MPs thus making it independent. They should encourage the media to be transparent when it comes to sources, maintain a high standard and be backed by legislation. The body should also have the power to investigate complaints and to hand out fines if papers are found guilty. Politicians had been found to have too close of a relationship with the press but that police corruption was minimal. It was acknowledged that journalists can be over zealous when investigating a story and that innocent people and celebrities can be hurt in this process (especially in the case of the News of the World). [4]

The reactions to the findings have been mixed. David Cameron, who had been enthusiastic for change when he announced there was to be an inquiry, accepted the findings but was hesitant over making changes to legislation. Campaigners and victims of the scandal were angry over his change of mind and felt that it would be “yet another voluntary system from which the press can walk away.” [5] The two other large political parties, Labour and the Liberal Democrats (who have formed a coalition government with the Conservatives and leader Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister), agreed entirely with the findings. The majority of the press sided with Cameron, agreeing that changes needed to be made but any legislation made would be a step towards censorship and dangerous to press freedom. In the following months the main political parties went back and forth over how to go forward. The Conservative wanted a Royal Charter (a formal document which would establish a governing body and the rules it must abided by), Labour and the Liberal Democrats wanted a governing body backed by law. Eventually a plan was made that satisfied all parties plus the victims and campaigners, a governing body established by Royal Charter which could be amended if there was a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, plus two changes to existing law. The press however, rejected it stating again that it curb press freedom. They proposed applying for their own Royal Charter which would remove politics from the equation and block any charges it didn’t like in the regulation. That was in April of this year and the impasse between politicians, the press and victims/campaigners are still in place. [6] [7]

Also see: Television Viewing & Our Psychosocial Health

References:

————————————————

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/uk/london/9345195/Fleet-Street-the-surprising-origins-of-Britains-newspaper-industry.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_of_the_World_royal_phone_hacking_scandal

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_of_the_World

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20543133

[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20556117

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21797513

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22294722

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66 Responses to “Celebrity Gossip & The British Press Corruption”

  1. parisienne June 12, 2013 at 6:10 PM #

    Ozzie,

    Excellent article. What is the difference between members of Parliment and MP’s? I thought they were the same thing.

    • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 7:23 PM #

      You are correct, M.P. does stand for Member of Parliment! And incase it comes up and I forget to explain it, P.M. which stands for Prime Minister.

      *resisting urge to mock Nick Clegg’s role. It’s so strong! Must resist!*

      • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

        Ah! Come on! We are all friends here. Hahaha! No don’t I admire your resolve.

        • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM #

          The only PC way I can put it is this basically…

          I will definately resist from posting my non PC thoughts, lol!

          • Open Book June 14, 2013 at 2:53 PM #

            HAHAHAHA! AWESOME! Love this episode!

      • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

        Ozzie,

        I’m amazed that celebs feel comfortable with all of this posturing from politicians. Though they have similar popularity, the artistic celebs actually have very little power accept influence. A Hollywood celebrity can become a mayor, governor or President of the country yet can’t command much beyond the Screen Actors Guild commitments.

        Can you imagine them revolting or taking any visible stand to contradict these events. Or do you think they are more likely to remain passive?

        • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM #

          CR-Are u asking if a celeb could change these hacking laws if they became involved in the political arena?

          • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 9:53 PM #

            Now that you mention celebrities turning to politics, I can’t think of one celebrity here who has done that. I don’t know why either.

            I forgot to add the one of the main campaigners is a group called Hacked Off of which a number of celebrities are part of it. Apparently they were part of the group that finalised the goverment’s plan. Here’s their website. http://hackinginquiry.org/

            Hopefully you can all see this video with Joanna Lumley (who was campaigning on behalf of the Ghurka veterans to live here) owning a politician! I can’t remember the exact details but it was along the usual lines of the goverment made a promise then broke it. It’s so funny! The death glares she gives are amazing. You don’t want to mess with her!

            • Open Book June 14, 2013 at 3:10 PM #

              Now that’s how to give death glares. Direct but not Jerry Springer over the top. LOVE IT!

            • Open Book June 14, 2013 at 3:43 PM #

              I read what Hacked Off is doing. The truth is any civilian (not just celebs) can find themselves being victimized by the press if they are involved in something news worthy. How effective have Hacked Off been in getting their initiatives seriously heard and supported by the general public?

              IMO, the press does a good job of convincing the public they are working for them and have enlisted the public into stalking/hacking celebs themselves. Meaning they “the public” tend to sympathize with the press and not celebs because they offer them a chance at fame and money. How can celebs compete and get public support?

              • ozzie20 June 14, 2013 at 9:30 PM #

                I think they’re well known because whenever they mention campaigners their name always comes up. However unless the public go and look at their website, they come across as a group of famous people complaining about their lack of privacy. It’s not the media’s interest to present a fairer image of them as the group is against everything they want. I’ve yet to find a newspaper that has actually sung their praises about them!

                So yes, the press is winning when it comes to Hacked Off. I don’t think alot of people know that the group is made up of innocent famous people, innocent non famous people and people who work in human rights (lawyers, professors etc). Putting Hacked off aside, the majority of the public still want a regulatory body put in place though so the press is still losing on that front.

                I’m not quite sure on how celebrities can get more support. People had been grumbling for awhile about the phone hacking when all they knew about were that celebrities were affected by it. It wasn’t until they found out that NOTW had hacked into a murder victims’s phone, that people exploded. The police are still investigating it (apparently thousands of people may have been victims so that’s what is taking time), people are still being arrested. All it would take is one more case like that and it will set the public back into outrage mode! Looking at the potential victim lists it’s a case of “when it will happen” rather than “if it will hapen.”

            • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:12 AM #

              O.B.,

              Yes, that is exactly what I meant! Fortunately, Ozzie has given me quite a bit to think about.

              ———————————————————————-

              Ozzie,

              Sorry, I don’t know, yet Joanna Lumley looks like an extremely famous British T.V. star (whose name and claim to fame I do not remember). Would you be so kind as to remind us what the show she was on? Sorry for being an English imbecile (yet I promise one day I will visit there). Concerning the Brits, I think the show may have been reproduced here as well. I just can’t remember it. I will be eternally grateful if you would lend a hand ☺.

              ———————————————————————-

              Sorry Ozzie, I googled it, I now remember she was on “Absolutely Fabulous”.

              Sorry I thought “AB FAB” influenced an American T.V. show, much the way The Office was inspired an original British counterpart starring Ricky Gervais. I may have been wrong about that because I have yet to find a reference to that anywhere.

              • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:14 AM #

                Ozzie,

                But back to what you were saying or informing us about. American media is so bad that much of the story you’re reminding us of is barely being reported here at all. Therefore it’s extremely hard to here of all of the wonderful and exceptional things that are happening in London. I’m so glad so many English are fighting back! Also I’m so glad they are some of leaders in this fight to make the press more accountable.

  2. Open Book June 13, 2013 at 4:39 PM #

    AWESOME JOB OZ!

    In the Starsucker doc it stated how news journalist no longer have time to check their sources. Do u think its because the source of their information was illegally obtained?

    • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 7:36 PM #

      I agree with the documentary. It’s down to staff cutbacks. So while they’ve saved some money, they’ve lowered the standard of journalism in doing so. However I do think that is an easy excuse that is used often to get out of the backlash when they’ve been discovered to use illegal information. So I guess it is a yes to your question in the end, lol!

      • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

        Hahaha! U are just like me not buying the “whoa is me there is no time or money for ethical journalism crap?” I’ve always believed there to be a conflict of interest when journalist expect to get paid by advertising when providing a public service.

        • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM #

          Yes!

  3. Open Book June 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM #

    It sounds like tabloids assume ownership over celebrities personal lives and violate their civil rights to make a buck. Do u think what’s happened to News of the World has stopped others from hacking or using illegal means to obtain information?

    • parisienne June 13, 2013 at 6:06 PM #

      In regards to your question, OB, I don’t think it has stopped the tabs or papparazzi from illegally obtaining anything. I think its just drawn attention to the fact that it happens and is still happening, IMO.

      • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:16 PM #

        I’m sure it won’t stop right away but I think its a good thing they’ve been called out publicly and penalized for it and at least there is an attempt being made to stop it however ceremonial that may be.

        • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 7:41 PM #

          It hasn’t stopped. The NOTW was just caught doing it more than the others at the time. I have the figures somewhere, it may take me a bit to find them again.

          • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:57 PM #

            Do u think someone like Daniel Ellsberg the person who leaked the Pentagon papers that helped stop the War in Vietnam could happen today with all the hacking?

            http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/16/the_most_dangerous_man_in_america

            • ozzie20 June 14, 2013 at 9:49 PM #

              It could. The Gardian published the Milly Dowler hacking details which set off the massive public back lash. So if something similar was released it would have the same effect as the pentagon papers. Of course the newspapers will go kicking and screaming and still try to worm they way out of it!

          • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:58 PM #

            Ozzie,

            In the United States, it appears that things tend to change when average citizens mobilize for change. Do you see any possibility that regular citizens will adopt this problem as their own?

            • ozzie20 June 15, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

              If pushed enough, yes.

              • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:15 AM #

                Glad to hear it 🙂 .

                • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:36 AM #

                  It’s really stupid but in the US we tend to treat celebrities as though they are royalty or Gods. Therefore there’s seems to be very little discomfort if they are treated badly. The possibility that common citizens might feel as bad about a celebrity’s abuse as much as as their own, suggest you guys are a lot less likely to be abused by the press indefinitely.

                  I wish we found the nerve to act differently.

        • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM #

          Found it! It’s from 2006 and it only uses data from one agency being used to look up illegal information. So the figures are going to be alot higher today.

          Name of paper: Number of pieces of info bought.

          Daily Mail: 952
          Daily Mirror: 681
          NOTW: 182
          The Observer: 104
          The Sun: 24

          Those are only papers I know are known well outside of the UK and I’ve excluded Sunday editions.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_hacking_scandal_reference_lists

          • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

            That’s terrible but I’m not surprised. I’m sure its much higher today like u said.

          • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 8:03 PM #

            That’s really disgusting!!!!!!

            Boycotts, embargos and other buying stoppages tend to work fairly well here. Has anyone promoted these measures to threaten the press’ excesses?

            • ozzie20 June 14, 2013 at 9:34 PM #

              Unfortunately not en masse. I’d say only a small group of people do it and manage to keep it up 😦

              • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:39 AM #

                Maybe giving the topic some visibility here might change some of this behavior or their reluctance to act.

  4. Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:06 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  5. Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:10 PM #

    “This should not be made up by current journalists or Members of Parliament but rather former journalists and MPs thus making it independent. They should encourage the media to be transparent when it comes to sources, maintain a high standard and be backed by legislation. The body should also have the power to investigate complaints and to hand out fines if papers are found guilty.”

    Ozzie,

    Great article!!!!
    I’m incredibly impressed that London has been this progressive in attempting to resolve this mess. Do you think a congress of professionals will do the right thing when no laymen or public citizens participate on this panel of critics? Shouldn’t this group be elected to assure some level of accountability?

    • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

      I think professionals will run things better but they really need to be intune with what the public want. They can’t be an “old boys club” that give slaps on the wrist and rarely listen to complaints like they used to. The public are very aware now of how things have been. They can’t be treated as being stupid or like kids. We’re very jaded now and the damage has been deep. So yes there does need to be people in this new group who will take accountabillity. I can’t really see it working out in any other way.

      I forgot to add that this new regulatory body is still going to be optional for newspapers as to whether they join or not. The up side is they can have a kite mark which will let people know they’re part of this change (but like I said about, people will still be jaded and it will take time for it to build up any credibility) and any fines they incur will be be lower than those newspapers who refuse to join up.

      Kind of OT. I do find it ironic that the outcry created from the press and the public could end careers, and how that is now twisted with the public ending a newspaper, lol!

      • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

        “I think professionals will run things better but they really need to be in tune with what the public want.”

        Well you certainly know the British better than I do, so I’ll take your word for it. Politicians here are far more likely to be jealous of acting celebrities or at least be competitive with them. I think Celebs may be fooling themselves if they thing politicians will act on their behalf without a public outcry of some kind or another.

        I could be wrong, yet I think it’s a shame that they don’t do more organize themselves to use their celebrity more constructively for their own security.

        • ozzie20 June 14, 2013 at 10:14 PM #

          The political parties do court celebrities around election time (although not many will come out and say which party they stand by). I’m not sure if their opinion has any effect on voters. It doesn’t for me anyway. After the election has taken place they’re dropped like hot potatoes! Joanna Lumley and Jamie Oliver are the only two I can think of at the moment who have taken on political issues and won.

          • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:41 AM #

            As you well know they are courted here, and when publicly able they are “outed” for their political affiliations.

      • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 8:48 PM #

        Yes! The Public really has more power than they think to change things. This should be an example don’t u think?

        • ozzie20 June 14, 2013 at 10:04 PM #

          Of course! Hopefully people will remember that.

  6. ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 7:14 PM #

    Hello everyone!

    • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:16 PM #

      Hi Oz!

      How are u?

      • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:19 PM #

        Hi Ozzie and OB.

        • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

          Hi CR!

          Big Hugs!

          • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

            OB,

            Big hugs right back at cha!!!!!

            • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM #

              Now let’s see how long we can be civil with each other tonight. Hahaha!

              • Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:41 PM #

                Oh come on; I’m extremely confident about this one 🙂

                • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 7:51 PM #

                  Ok I will give u a big kiss for being so optimistic. Hahaha!

                  • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

                    Lol!

                    I have a dull headache but after 3 or 4 days of having blinding migraines, a dull headache is of great relief! So I’m good in my own backward, wierd way! Kind of OT, can ginger tea work this quickly? I’ve only had one cup!

                    • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

                      Yes! the more ginger the better. Also, if u have it raw it works faster.

                    • ozzie20 June 15, 2013 at 7:40 PM #

                      I need to find somewhere that sells raw ginger then! 🙂

  7. Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

    “They proposed applying for their own Royal Charter which would remove politics from the equation and block any charges it didn’t like in the regulation. That was in April of this year and the impasse between politicians, the press and victims/campaigners are still in place.”

    I think this horror on the part of the press is amazing and predictable. Act as a predator toward celebs for years then claim your public service and right to speak freely is under assault when people call you on your cruelty?

    Would this public charter give them greater powers to act independently?

    • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 9:08 PM #

      You make a very good observation CR! I hadn’t thought of it that way.

      It’s difficult to answer your question because there are different types of charter and have a wide range of use (from setting up universities, hospitals, charities, even cities) I think it’s a yes to your question. From what I can gather the press want one that is free from the goverment “interfering”. The goverment and campaigners want one that will allow the goverment to get involved in any major disputes (like the one going on right now to decide what this regulative body should be!). However, there is safety measures in this one which will stop it from being a “state press” and allows free speach. To make a change it has to be agreed upon by 2/3 of both Houses of Parliment (the House of Commons and the House of Lords). Bills can go back and forth between the two houses for years before they’re agreed upon, which by then the situation could of already been sorted or it could of changed into some new problem. I think that’s basically what they’re arguing about but it’s very complicated and I could be very wrong, lol!

      • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:43 AM #

        Thanks for providing us some window to the world.

  8. Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM #

    Ozzie,

    It’s odd that so much of the Starsucker Documentary was dedicated to claiming celebrity pursuit was an inevitable outcome of viewing popular culture.

    Your article on the other hand seems perplexed by the press’ obsession with debunking celebs.

    How do you feel about this contradiction? If they are not obvious, do you have any feelings that contradict either of these sources?????

    • ozzie20 June 15, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

      If I understand your question correctly (and I’m probably not, lol), I see them as being intertwined. There are many reason why people read celebrity gossip. Mostly it’s due to people wanting to feel better about there own lives (At least I hope it’s a majority). If someone rich and famous is doing worse than what you are, it gives a boost. For a small small group it’s wanting to feel part of a celebrities life or for those wanting to be celebrities it’s like a guide book (again I really hope these two are small groups and/or that I’m wrong). Whatever the reason the appetite for popular culture grows and grows. Part of that is knowing as much as possible about a celebrities life. Newspapers and gossip sites provide it. One of the ways they provide it by phone hacking.

      But the thing is this appetite also overflowed into areas where it shouldn’t.Celebrities or their family medical records, missing and murder victim’s familes, police investigations, terror attack victims and their families. The list goes on. One of the ways they provided this information is phone hacking. We may want to know everything that is happening at the moment that it’s happening but that need shouldn’t be indulged in often.

      We’ve become so desensitised to this indulgence that we think it’s normal. And it wasn’t really the fact that anybody cared about celebrities when it was happening. Sure some did cared but it took a murder case being possibly tampered with for the rest to care. So celebrity pursuit was an inevitable outcome of viewing popular culture but phone hacking was one of the ways we view popular popular culture. I hope that ramble makes sense!

      • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 12:48 AM #

        That made a tremendous amount of sense yet the more you describe it the more it sounds tragic and sick. I’ll pick my jaw up off the floor by the next discussion.

  9. Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 8:27 PM #

    Ozzie,

    Obviously Americans have a long way to go to admit where this kind of unsolicited information can lead when citizens receive it inappropriately.

    • Open Book June 13, 2013 at 9:14 PM #

      Not everything is News worthy obviously they knew that back in the 60’s but today we’ve lowered our standards so much overhearing someone make a grocery list is reasonable news. No wonder we are so uninformed with this crap taken up space. This is so ridiculous to hear they pieced together gossip to make an entire book. Wow! I’m sure the biggest highlights of the book were discussed in this interview.

      • ozzie20 June 15, 2013 at 8:50 PM #

        Wow… I agree with you there OB!

        • Comic Relief June 16, 2013 at 1:02 AM #

          I was trying to highlight the fact that every thing Jackie O. thought about MLK at that time came from reports and gossip obtained by illegal wiretaps of a fairly notorious yet brilliant Civil rights leader. At that time, not only was he changing the World that normal citizens took for granted but also he must have been extremely easy to prejudice a fairly conventional woman that he was a “trickster” of sorts.

          I’m sure these were the opinion of the FBI agents who bugged him. Maybe had she not been in the crosshairs of so many controversies’, she might have realized he had as many media spectacle problems as she had.

          More than that, just like the hacking of that day. Spying on people then trying your own history or interpretation of popular individuals is pathetic and cowardly behavior.

  10. Comic Relief June 13, 2013 at 8:28 PM #

    Nice job, Ozzie. Unfortunately I need to run. Talk to you both later.

  11. Open Book June 13, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

    Great work Oz! Very informative and I hope u feel better and take lots of ginger. Goodnight!

    • ozzie20 June 13, 2013 at 10:30 PM #

      Thank you! As I’m getting tired, I’ll be off too but I will be back to answer the rest of the question! 🙂

    • ozzie20 June 14, 2013 at 10:17 PM #

      I’ll be back again tomorrow to finish off the last questions! 🙂

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