Last year scandal sunk the UK’s News of the World, a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Now it seems to be the BBC’s turn, if not to be sunk (which is unlikely), at least to be severely tried. If you don’t already know the details about the BBC story, you can find them everywhere online (here’s a report from the BBC itself). But I’m not really concerned with the details.
What interests me is some of the reaction to the criticism that these media scandals have provoked. Consider this excerpt from a Washington Post story:
Phil Harding, the BBC’s former controller of editorial policy, warned U.K. media to resist the temptation to criticize too much.
“If you really tear into another journalistic organization, what you are going to do is … undermine public confidence in journalism,” he said Monday at a Society of Editors conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Undermine public confidence in journalism?!?! Oh dear! What would happen if journalism ceased to be a reputable profession? Or — God forbid! — it just plain old ceased? Would Western civilization survive?
Just in case journalism does fade away I recommend that people start (now!) collecting and storing old newspapers or purchasing past issues on CD-ROM (and maybe even moving to some remote location in the woods or the mountains). That way when we find ourselves once again in the Dark Ages and no longer have real live journalists out there to get the scoop for us we will still have access to that indispensable treasury of wisdom that they, once upon a time, bequeathed to us.
If you find this scenario troubling, just imagine if bloggers, too, became a thing of the past…