Hacking Scandal: Why student journalists should be the most worried

Nicole Froio

Sunday London 300x204  Hacking Scandal: Why student journalists should be the most worriedJournalism students are told they will be mistrusted, disliked and belittled in the first week of studying the trade. The public will always hate you, they are told, and you have to be fierce enough to go after the story they will read the next day despite this. Persistence and harassment are taught as means to get the truth and the byline.

Journalists get their fair share of rejection and closed doors, but the phone hacking scandal has brought about a new kind of distrust. The News of the World has closed its doors after 168 years of business – and as much as the hacking of hundreds of phones was an atrocious insult to the profession of journalism, I doubt its competitors wanted so many journalists to lose their jobs.

Breaking the rules in the name of holding someone accountable for their actions is what drives journalism – the public interest is always the winner. If a politician is corrupt and the only way to expose him is with leaked files or by using information given by someone who was told to be quiet about it, there will hardly be consequences for the journalist writing the story.

Putting all journalism under scrutiny, as the prime minister has suggested, is a huge insult to newspapers that have upheld their morals throughout the years – in short, punishing journalists who didn’t hack phones is confirming a public mindset I had dismissed, despite being told it still existed, is still in existence. Journalists are still hated – even the ones with big brand names behind them.

And this makes it all the more difficult to break into the world of professional journalism. Besides the obvious fact that 200 journalists are now unemployed and there is one less employer in the country – regardless of how unethical it was – the mistrust of journalists is even bigger now.

Trainee journalists have little to fall back on already; it’s very difficult to be taken seriously without the big newspaper brands behind you and your desire to write the story. This is why we are taught to be pushy and persistent to get interviews and good quotes – but how much more persistent will we have to be when hatred for journalists is at an all time high? How will we be trusted to go into newsrooms if newsrooms themselves are being mistrusted all over the UK? Short answer: we won’t. And a profession that was already incredibly competitive will have turned impossible.

The misconception that journalists look for the juiciest headlines for the money has to be corrected; isn’t a truth universally acknowledged that journalists don’t get very high pay? All professions have their good and bad.

If the public really want all newsrooms to be scrutinized, if this is really what needs to be done, I think some time along the way journalists have failed at having a dialogue with their readership. Yes, social media has paved the way for some amazing communication between the public and the newspapers, but was it enough to shed away the harsh image journalism had gotten over the years? The only ones who should be scrutinized are the ones who gave reason to be scrutinized.

We are all involved; press, public and politicians, but only one can take the blame; the press. News of the World journalists who have lost their jobs have diminished trainee journalists chances to get jobs in the future; now there are 200 experienced journalists we must compete with when applying for a job. And the overall scandal has, unfortunately, made all journalists look bad. And those who merely aspire to be journalists look even worse.


Tagged in: , ,
  • FredUp

    This isn’t about journalism, it’s about the corruption that spreads into politics and the police from the journalistic profession.
    It doesn’t take a genius to see that if police were in the pay of News Limited, (which they were), it may well be the reason why they were so reluctant to investigate the hacking.
    A suspicious person might even think they were paid off not to look to closely. And that is exactly what they did (or didn’t) do. The police were extremely dismissive of the hacking claims, they didn’t want to know about it……..I want to know why.

  • stonedwolf

    Actually, I’m a fan of under-cover journalism generally. Would you have
    been quite as upset, in principle, if a different paper sent some fake
    businessmen into a Tory MP’s surgury and got him to say lots of awful

  • Nathan Hulse

    It is too early in the day to be rushing to the defence of British journalism in general. The gauntlet must be run and the wheat must be separated from the chaff, where possible. Then we will hopefully reach a point where some faith restored and journalists that yet retain some integrity will be able to continue to make a living – and hopefully serve the public interest – for the foreseeable future. Looking to prevent general scrutiny of the industry is just a damn good way of inviting flak right now.

  • sdatta

    Of course itis true that there are better journalists, who should be distinguished from more corrupt journalists.  However, because of the centralised pattern of media ownership, and the close relationship with the major political parties, it becomes that much harder for the better journalists to function effectively.

  • ram2009

    “professional journalism.”   
            Whatever is that?  Yesterday, a “journalist” argued that this government should not be allowed to encumber journalists with a code of ethics or of morality.  In the light of what has happened, which I believe is not restricted to NI, this should be an essential element of this trade.   If journalists see themselves as the eyes and ears of the public, and claim to hold others to higher standards of conduct in public life, they themselves should attempt to be beyond reproach.  They have failed.  Most have been found to be embedded, with the government of the day.

Most viewed



Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter