Dear Paul Dacre: there is more to journalism than sales

Paul Dacre has long tried to assure readers that the freedom of the press is critical to its survival. This includes the right of the press to continue its system of self regulation and to be protected from ‘the scandalous fees charged by lawyers in no-win no-fee cases’ – fees payable when a newspaper loses a libel or defamation case in court. At the same time Paul Dacre has reserved a special level of contempt for any newspaper that dares to criticise the newspaper industry or in general ‘denigrate’ it by daring to have a media section.

One newspaper that the Mail constantly criticises is the Guardian – and the Mail is not alone, the Guardian is almost universally scorned as some kind of lentil-munching-lilly-livered-liberal-cesspit. In an editorial in 2010 the Daily Mail published the following:

The all-party Commons Culture Committee report is to be commended for accepting that self-regulation is the best way of policing Britain’s newspapers and for identifying many of the threats to Press freedom…

And if a certain heavily loss-making, chattering class newspaper spent half the energy it devotes to its almost psychotic hatred of self-regulation and popular newspapers to improving its own lamentable performance, then it and Fleet Street would be in a healthier state.

I wonder if Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail would like to apologise to the Guardian and to its readers for how it has forgotten that journalism is about more than sales figures. Clearly, the Guardian has been right to investigate the rotten state of journalism and have been noble in accepting that this kind of investigative journalism will not just make them a financial loss, but will also ensure them few friends inside or outside of the industry. It is undeniable that the self-regulation of the newspaper industry has been a complete failure and the dissolution of the Press Complaints Commission is now inevitable – another promised review and more worthless talk of lessons learnt from those at the top of the PCC are utterly out-of-step with reality. The press – like the banks they had so much fun attacking – have demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that they are not fit to regulate themselves.

The Guardian has devoted some of its energy to uncovering the horrific abuses carried out in the name of journalism by the News of the World and their work has resulted in the unprecedented closure of that newspaper. The Daily Mail website currently leads with this story, quick to jump on the bandwagon set rolling solely by the efforts on the Guardian. Until this week the Daily Mail have been one of the newspapers most keen to smash the wheels off of this bandwagon to ensure it never started rolling in the first place. As ever the Mail is hypocritical and, as ever, they are quick to join in the damning of others – describing the News of the World as ‘THE PAPER THAT DIED OF SHAME’.

Well, some of the shame should be felt by those working for the Daily Mail – and by Paul Dacre who controls so closely the editorial line of the newspaper. Dacre should be ashamed – not to mention utterly embarrassed – that whilst the Guardian struggled to make headway in a long story of hacking – starting with politicians and celebrities – he was editorialising about the scourge of wheelie bins and other inane drivel.

The Guardian having the temerity to investigate the actions of another newspaper is not a sign that the Guardian has a ‘almost psychotic hatred of self-regulation and popular newspapers’. It is merely that thing called journalism. Paul Dacre and the rest of the staff working for the Daily Mail should look that word up some time. Who knows, with enough effort they might even start practicing it again.

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