I've never been particularly aware of Rupert Murdoch. I only knew him as a savvy media mogul, and I filed him under men such as Trump, Cowell and Sugar. The kind of men I, as a slightly deluded and odd-principled young whippersnapper, might once have admired.
It's awfully hard, though, to look yourself in the eye and admit you admire someone who now has on their repertoire a fine line in piloting a corrupt, morally bankrupt and decidedly dubious media practise that finds it quite easy to calmly jettison hundreds of innocent employees to protect the turncoat backs of the bigwigs while proclaiming to the few media outlets that are listening to you that you would 'never throw anyone under a bus'.
You can visit far more esteemed and educated blogs than mine for a thorough dissection of the winding trail of Murdoch, Brooks et al's many many indescretions. You can watch Twitter for news unfolding about whether or not the rest of the rotten empire will come tumbling down off the back of yet another great relevation in this, the year that I've already dubbed the year journalism broke itself. I wonder what Andrew Marr would have to say about the importance of bloggers now, all of whom are promoting the Independent and Guardian's gleefully feverish rolling update feeds and rolling about at the jokes snuck into the final News of the World crossword.
It's a bad business, this business. And the business was to sell papers. The business is to break the big story, to sell the most papers. I gather that The Times, the paper I have read since I started reading papers and the only paper that I would buy now, is in danger too, and is also making a loss. Nobody can do it fast enough nowadays, and whether they can get there before someone else has busted the story. Inevitably, someone online.
In the quest for success, for fame and for fortune, though, this time they went too far.
Journalism has always been about seeking truth - the peoples' way of getting justice, mob rule dressed up in newsprint. Certainly true of late (see Chris Jeffries rant earlier in the year). The power these flimsy publications have over the collective population is so all-consuming that we often forget their reach, their influence. A power that is controlled, simply, by a few choice individuals who were promoted to their seats of power by their business savvy and their desire to seek truth. Sadly, two concepts that are as alien as chalk and cheese. The media is a business, like everything else, and it is not always in the interest of a staggering corporate giant to do the right thing.
Which is why, sadly, this latest incident is not the first, and will not be the last revelation about the way that we are now made aware of the world. Nothing, and nowhere, is safe from the insatiable appetite that the speed and supply of news has created in us. Public demand for the truth, by whatever means, has created a monster. A monster whose job it now is to entertain, to shock, to provide a platform for dangerous (ly stupid, often) individuals with inflammatory views to raise a pulse, and to put money in peoples' pockets.
A magazine editor I follow on Twitter gleefully tweeted 'RIP trash journalism' following the news that the News of the World was to close. As I said at the time, this is just one head of the Hydra. And every time she and her colleagues print another 'baby bump speculation' picture, they feed the monster's other heads.