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Phone-hackers with Paper-thin Morals

The UK is famous for its journalism and paparazzi, but how far is too far to get a story? Last week, the biggest Sunday newspaper closed down because of a row over phone-hacking by journalists. This has also led to wider questions about the press regulation, media ownership, police corruption, and relationships between politicians and journalists.

Phone-hacking

The way journalists intercepted phones were simple: Mobile phones, for example, used to come with a default four-digit Pin. Customers were expected to change their Pin, but very few did. Tabloid journalists and private investigators could call the number and if the caller didn't answer, they could enter the default Pin and access the person's messages. The paper had been secretly, and illegally, hacking into the voicemail messages of important people, or people who were important to a particular story. They wanted exclusive stories and have admitted doing this for many years.

News of the World

The News of the World was a tabloid paper, almost 130 years old and selling about 3million copies every Sunday. It was also owned by Rupert Murdoch, the most powerful media mogul in the world. Their way of reporting and publishing stories was very sensational and famous for its celebrity scoops. It was particularly fond of sex scandals involving famous people; therefore the likes of Siena Miller and Wayne Rooney were involved.

Shocking

The seriousness of the hacking was highlighted with the involvement of the families who had suffered from tragedy. For example, the family of a murdered teenage girl discovered their phone had been hacked and voicemail messages were erased. Relatives of dead UK soldiers were also targeted by journalists. Additionally, some police officers have been quizzed internally, as it was also discovered that they had accepted money for information from journalists.

Now

Consequently, all politicians are happy that the paper was axed and are backing the idea to stop Rupert Murdoch gaining more power, because of his association to the scandal. His company looks likely to be hit the most as advertising within this news group has already fallen dramatically. As for the journalists involved, as well as the editors of the paper who were aware of the hackings, they are likely to be charged with criminal offences.

Morals

I believe that sometimes these tabloid papers balanced their morals out with stories that really did show how corrupt people were – they exposed certain high-powered people / companies to the public to show that they can’t be trusted. Yet, as a form of getting information, it is altogether a dishonest method. However, I think its different targeting a celebrity to targeting a victim of a serious crime. Ethically, that is one line they shouldn’t have crossed just for a story.

Media-related vocabulary

Journalism
the profession or practice of reporting about, photographing, or editing news stories for one of the mass media
Journalist
a person whose job is journalism
Paparazzi
freelance photographers who particularly take ones of celebrities
Phone-hacking
illegally accessing someone’s phone without the owners knowledge
A tabloid
a newspaper designed to appeal to a mass audience
A row
an argument
The press
informal word for newspapers
To be sensational
To cause an intense or shocked feeling
A scoop
A news story reported before anyone else
A scandal
A disgraceful action known by the public
An exclusive (story)
a news story reported for the first time, like a scoop
To expose
to find out the truth
To quiz
to interview about something negative
To axe
to finish something unexpectedly
To back
to support
An editor
the person responsible for what is published in a newspaper
To be hit
to be badly affected
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