Correct. You do, however, because of the fast-changing nature of the media, particularly now in the digital age, you do need -- I think if you're a former editor 20 years ago, you're probably not in touch with the immediacy and the changes that are happening exponentially in the news media and particularly the challenges of the Internet newspapers. If we think it's bad now, newspapers used to wait until the following morning to put something out. Now they put it out at 4 o'clock in the afternoon or whenever they get it, so the challenges are greater than they were.
One area I would like to stress -- and I hope this is the right place to do so -- is editorial management, corporate responsibility, corporate governance. Just imagine the following scenario: a reporter on the news desk has got wind of a very good story, talks to the news editor about it. It will involve, perhaps, any of the areas we highlight: phone hacking, paying sources for information, stealing documents, forging documents, impersonation, blagging, secret recording, secret filming, et cetera. It could potentially involve any of those. So in other words, we're in difficult terrain.
The news editor has a private conversation, thinks: "Well, actually this is pretty flaky. Who is your source? This may just be somebody with a grievance. Go back, get stronger information, come back."
So the story -- fast-forward. The story is strong, the news editor is prepared to back it. The news editor talks to the editor with the reporter present, really cross-questions the reporter. "Are you sure about it", et cetera. So you get to a point where the editor is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. He or she is going to take a risk on this story, a reputational risk on this story.
That editor should then go to the managing editor, or their publisher if it's a magazine, and say, "I'm not going to give you the details because it's my responsibility but I'm going to sanction an operation, to coin a phrase, in which we're going to use potentially the following methods to get a story which we're strongly of the view is in the public interest."
Another conversation: "Are you sure, are you sure", et cetera. You have that conversation, and the managing editor says, "Fine, it's your call, completely support what you're doing. Go ahead with that."
The story may come to nothing. The story may be a fabulous story, and so the concerns fall away because of the public interest test, or it may go badly wrong and there are then problems then ensue.
The quarterly board meetings of the news organisation could and should have an agenda item on standards and practices: "So, in the last quarter, how many potentially underhand operations did you do?" "Well, we did eight." "Okay, don't tell us the details. We don't need to join those two sets of dots. How did they go? Were you satisfied with the process?"
And then you add into that a role for the regulator to discuss -- again, without joining the dots, without compromising sources -- and you have a robust internal mechanism that ultimately comes down to the directors of that news organisation. There is a massive self-interest for them, as News International and News Corporation directors are now finding to their cost. Where you don't apply procedure editorial standards -- the "I was in Tuscany" excuse, "I didn't know about it, I didn't know who the bloke in the dirty mac in the corner was", is just no excuse.
The buck does stop with the editor and not knowing is not an excuse and it's an issue of corporate self-interest to make sure that procedures are good. But where done properly, this will not in any way chill free speech. I think it will be great for newspapers to say, "We did 37 investigations last year. They involved the following methods, and we're proud of each and every one of them."
I think that will be greatly enhancing for a news organisation.