COLLAPSE OF THE MEDIA MADNESS

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?

Please remember to leave a comment and get the debate going.

Justin

The Re:Thinking Marketing & Brands Blog

justin@basini.com

www.basini.com

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Justin Basini

Entrepreneur, author of Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU?, blogger (www.basini.com), business, brand and marketing thinker and do-er, husband and dad

2 thoughts on “COLLAPSE OF THE MEDIA MADNESS”

  1. Great piece Justin. The media in general could be in serious trouble now thanks to a culture which they largely created.

    However, I believe the real significance of this story is not what a few hacks have got up to, but the fact that Murdoch exploited the power granted to him, in part by Mrs Thatcher in 1981 when he bought the Times group without reference to the competition commission on the spurious grounds that it was a loss making enterprise and most importantly the political implications thereof. Murdoch’s group newspapers did all in their power (convincingly in many cases) to destroy Gordon Brown as Chancellor and then as PM. It is worth speculating that this was because, despite efforts to cosy up to him by all political parties in recognition of the power he wielded, he recognised that the diamond opportunity to control all of BSkyB relied upon the election of Cameron. The hacking (theft) of information including personal information relating to Gordon Brown and publishing of said data was probably a large part of the reason that fewer people voted for Labour than did for the other two large parties. It is noteworthy that despite their best efforts Cameron’s government did not secure a majority in its own right hence the coalition. Perhaps with total domination of our media Murdoch could have garnered more votes for the Conservatives?

    Under Cameron, the purchase of the remaining share of BSkyB was virtually a given. The Liberal Democrat (Cable) who was the minister in charge of this deal voiced concerns and was swiftly removed from a position of power in his own ministry. This was a political move to appease Murdoch.

    So we have Murdoch’s motivation for political tampering and overseeing illegal transactions by his staff.

    Cameron’s motivation for pleasing Murdoch is probably the large backing his government would stand to get from a Murdoch controlled media. His judgement in hiring Coulson was seriously lacking, and the letting go of Coulson as the furore grew was very low key. Cameron continues to stand by his man, and his woman. Brooks, it would appear, was the person who phoned the Brown family with news of their newborn son’s serious illness. Brooks was at the helm when a lot of information was illegally procured.

    With major scale criminality involving the illegal purchase of confidential information from officials one must wonder why the PM is so doggedly backing Coulson and Brooks as this cannot be anything other than damaging to his position. The only way to safely navigate out of this ever growing scandal would be to distance himself from the individuals involved. Particularly since we have a cross-party consensus to block Murdoch’s purchase. And yet he is not doing so. Do they have something on him? It is not beyond the realms of possibility that blackmail could also be involved. Every day, the parallels with Watergate get clearer.

  2. Bonnie

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. To my mind there is no doubt that Murdoch is an arch-manipulator and, whilst I don’t generally like conspiracy theories, clearly not everything is as it seems.

    What I find refreshing is that the flames have been fanned by the transparency that comes from people and the connectivity that we have. Even these powerful people with all the resources at their disposal have fewer and fewer places to hide.

    The comparison with Watergate is compelling not least from the perspective of timelines – with wrong-doing for years exposed rapidly (the burglary) and the state’s hands being forced and the subsequent “house of cards” collapse as more and more information was revealed finally encompassing the highest power in the land.

    This one will run and run. I just hope that when we are through the otherside we are left with a more plural, more balanced, less purient and certainly less perverse media.

    Thanks again

    Justin

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