Why I Did Not Go Into Journalism

Media, Reading & Writing

Perhaps one shouldn’t be exercised by the kind of journalism that’s merely ‘the rattle of a stick in a swill bucket’, but ‘t you’re going to lie, I always think you should at least try to make it convincing. Clearly this did not cross editor Lisa Byrne’s mind before the Leveson inquiry about OK! magazine’s front cover.

Appearing before the Lord Justice, Byrne denied that a front page about Kate Middleton’s 30th birthday celebrations lied to readers. The cover featured a strapline stating “Catherine’s royal birthday – the intimate party, gifts, star guests and delicious menu”, and a box saying “‘My husband is my soulmate’ – world exclusive interview and pictures”.

Counsel asked if this was misleading because it suggested that OK! had an exclusive interview. It didn’t. But Byrne denied the charge, saying the two headlines of different stories had to be put there because there was nowhere else to place the second headline.

Counsel said that the words “guests and delicious menu” next to the headline about the birthday created the impression that the story had details about the Duchess’s birthday plans. OK! didn’t.

What’s good is that press inquiries are finally cracking down on the kind of barrel-scraping fakery that has done so much damage to the country’s journalistic reputation. Of course, there was always someone ready to make a drawing of a hanged man at Tyburn and sell it, but at least that was honest muck-raking.

One comment on “Why I Did Not Go Into Journalism”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    If they’re writing about something they saw happen or with information from someone they have good reason to believe saw happen then fine. As you say, honest muck raking. It’s when they seem to feel there should be a story and they can just imagine what must have happened so they write it that way that they need to have their press cards torn up. I heard an interview with someone who writes for one of those “two headed calf seen in Central Park”, “alien life forms found in chicken soup stock in Arizona” newspapers. He admitted they made it all up and photoshopped the pictures they used as illustrations. “Nobody believes them, of course, and they’re just read for entertainment.” Is that a good enough excuse?

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