Monday, 27 June 2011

The tabloid press is rarely a force for good

On Friday The Mirror published this story about the tragic murder of Milly Dowler, detailing how their journalist had obtained a supposedly crucial confession from the convicted Levi Bellfield. Roy Greenslade praised the paper in a Guardian blog. The print headline in the original article read "I Nailed Milly's Killer", though it has since been changed to something less distasteful on their website. Either way it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

If the Mirror reporter did manage to get a crucial admission from Bellfield then that is obviously good, especially if the police had failed to do so. But I utterly dispise the gloating headline and think that it reveals the true motive behind the reporter's work. Whatever his personal beliefs, clearly his professional motivation was to get the story at all costs, purely so he could use that kind of headline and sell more papers on the back of a horrific and tragic murder.

I am glad if a byproduct of that was a positive outcome but let's not pretend that the reporter and paper did this for the sake of the public good.

As a perfect example of the hypocritical behaviour of the Mirror, it is currently being prosecuted for contempt of court for their reporting of the initial arrest in the Joanna Yeates murder case. The judge, allowing the attorney-general to bring proceedings, stated that there was cleary an arguable case that the reporting by the Mirror would have prejudiced any trial.

I imagine that the Mirror would probably not have run a gloating headline "I Helped Joanna Yeates Killer To Go Free".

Additionally, though I do not know this for sure, I would be prepared to bet that the Mirror ran articles that contributed to the jury being discharged over the second kidnapping allegation against Bellfield. The victim in this case stated that she was "hurt and angry...at being robbed of justice".

I await the headline "I helped rob an innocent girl of justice".

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