The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

No, it hasn't. I think that is a correct assumption. I think another watchword of Fleet Street was that dog does not eat dog and that meant that you didn't then reveal the egregious errors or indeed the egregious tactics of other papers, even if they were your competitor.

Quite often, there would be an agreement between newspaper editors as, I think, again in this court, it was said that there was an agreement -- I have no knowledge if this was the case -- between the Daily Express and Daily Mail that they would stop criticising each other. These kind of either explicit or implicit assumptions that you don't go for other newspapers, you don't criticise other people's reports, were -- was the rule.

The Guardian, to its great honour, broke that rule and was much criticised for doing so. In a minor key, when I wrote the book I was much criticised for doing so, for breaking the code which says you do not, in writing about journalism, do other than make some jokily self-deprecating remarks, and that is about the limit.

I think now that the Guardian has done that, now that it is clear -- much clearer than it was before -- that journalism cannot merely be defended by saying -- by reference to the freedom of the press, and therefore anything we do is by definition correct -- since that, I think, has been fairly clearly, including in this room, has been pretty clearly exploded, I think now that both in newspapers or in television, still the dominant medium, and much, much more in the new internet sites, websites and so on, the watchdog of the watchdog function will be developed much more.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech