Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
What we have witnessed over the past few days with the closure of the News Of The World and the fast creep of the flames to other newspapers is proof that this aphorism is true.
And let’s be clear despite the best efforts of the Murdochs’ to stem the blood loss what we are witnessing is a fundamental reshaping of the balance of power in the British media. The deplorable behaviour that we now understand to have been commonplace will do the same for journalism as the expenses scandal did for politics. And I, for one, welcome the cleansing fire.
Trust in the media, despite what journalists, especially from the BBC, would have us believe is far from rock solid. Journalists bump along at the bottom of the pack with politicians (just behind business leaders lest we become too high and mighty).
But this lack of trust is not a good thing for society. Who can we count on when those whose higher purpose is to call the powerful to account are themselves seen as frauds? We need a strong and vibrant media but one that is called to account itself and can be trusted.
The reality is that there has been a deep lack of morality at the heart of the media for decades as the consumerist, self-obsessed, media and advertising created matrix has been created. We have all lost our way. From all of us that placate our own insecurities with celebrity gossip, to those that have no boundaries in their manufacturing of this “product”, the politicians too gutless to lance the boil, and the brands and advertisers that pay for it all. There were many responsible for creating the ethical vacuum that allowed such shameless activities to be seen as acceptable.
The inevitable changes to self-regulation, ethical standards and practice, the sackings and arrests, the calls for greater transparency all have the potential to be good as we vaguely attempt to rebuild the lost social capital in our society. The battle for a respected, valuable, social capital creating media is an important one. We are living through The Gap – where information outstrips our ability to change – and it is painful. But the opportunity, if we can take it through hard work, perseverance and looking at ourselves and our culpability, could be a better, healthier and more open society.
I look forward to it. From fire comes new growth.
If you are interested in trust generally and in society, and in the roles the media, business and brands play in building it, then why not consider pre-ordering my book WHY SHOULD ANYONE BUY FROM YOU?
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