Agreement of the displaced

The other day I went to the “Policy Exchange”… This is one of the most effective think tanks in UK politics and other arenas too.
The discussion today was really about “HackGate”, what it means to the media industry, what rules exist regarding the press, and what  if any, will be imposed in the future…
Now, the room was small, packed (albeit close to empty when I got there), there was food laid on and yet, no coffee :-(
London was forever bustling and this summer’s tourism was in full swing.
Now, the panel was made up of a (now) former political news editor of New of the World, an MP and former press sec to David Cameron, modern-day freedom and rights fighters and American – Heather Brooke, along with Joanne Cash (a media barrister), Mike Granatt – Former Head of the Government Information Service and former Director of Communications at the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office, all brought together by the Gabriel Milland former hack and now Head of Press at the Policy Exchange.

Now while most of the meeting is watchable below, there were some interesting Issues.
Firstly, the rules in the UK regarding the press are some of the tightest in the world… In many respects they’re too tight, basic information such as police incident and court reports are indeed almost impossible to obtain with any ease, which is surprising as they’re really generally considered news worthy and often in the public interest. But while this may well have been an aid to catalyze the present situation, little was said with regard to the laws that were/are broken to obtain sometimes the most basic of information.
This in no way excuses anything! But several things came to mind while watching, listening and observing…
In the regards of Phone tapping and hacking, especially regarding politicians and Royalty… aren’t the Security Service (aka MI5) supposed to keep an eye on things like that, as it is effectively, well……… espionage!!
Something Joanne Cash mentioned was the problem isn’t the rules – but the sheer lack of teeth to enforce and punish. But again, when you have police and others in the pay of the perpetrators this can’t be too easy.

The general talk was odd to me because there was an underlying belief that the Newspapers stood for something, and I simply believe they don’t!! They lost that mandate a while ago. There was a real feeling that the institution will last a thousand years, yet I felt like I was sitting in a room of people who were oblivious to their impending appointment to sign on at the local Job Centre as newly unemployed.
The newspapers in the UK, like many around the world, for the most part won’t exist in 10 years, not unless they slim down their staff considerably and opt for something we can’t get from the internet by then.
Even on the way home, I was standing at Oxford Circus watching a guy setting up a stand for the now free London Evening Standard… people were walking right by! And when I got to the tube station there were two guys almost pushing the newspapers into your hands… So here, right in front of me was the proof the newspaper is dying and doing so fast. I certainly wish I had thought to video it, but might at a later date anyway.

Nevertheless there was a good point made; “what is a journalist?” When is a blog a journal and so on…?
Now I went to this meeting because it was flashed up on Twitter. My thoughts were; if they change the rules, what does that mean for new media and more over – Me….
But the interesting thing was this lack of understanding that many simply get their news from the internet – like you…
I don’t own a TV, I don’t and don’t need to buy newspapers – I get it ALL from the internet, everything; news, entertainment, fun, laughs, organising work, meeting up with people and of course a little online shopping, smut and communicating with friends and around the world generally…

But what of freedoms? What of these so-called journalists? What of the rules? The lack of teeth?

Well I write this blog, I do not earn money from it, I have a fake listing on Who-Is and unless you know me, you don’t know who I am, where I live and you certainly don’t have my phone number…
I can and sometimes do say what I want, I don’t go out of my way to lie, and when I’m hard on people, I generally do it with very much a tongue in cheek. I also invite people to raise a complaint so I may rectify any issues – something modern media does NOT do…

Yet I’m free to write what I want, with a fair degree of impunity, I’m not chasing circulation or sales… Yet what of modern media?

The modern printed press mimic the televised entertainment interest, in doing so and in the desperate pursuit of readership they have for the most part sold their integrity down the line… A few don’t in the specialised sectors, but unless you do not own a TV, Radio or are on the internet – then the modern newspaper (once the cutting edge) is all you have. They simply provide gossip, TV listings, sport and games while at work.  In fact, in this area alone they haven’t fully embraced the market “need and want” at all – yet they believe that uncovering the odd scandal justifies everything. But really – it’s just a fast cash return they want and need…
Some papers will survive 10 years, the FT, and humorous political journals and magazines… The rest will be for the web or TV (which will be web based completely soon). In the last few years, visual and net media has grown, thousands upon thousands work in all these fields alone and so any future of the printed press is all but over

As for phone hacking, well on a landline your phone is simply two small wires, intercept that anywhere and attached a £20 recorder and you’re away – oh and those wires are normally Blue/White and White/Blue as a general rule…

But it’s easy to work out what has gone on, they DO it, they haven’t ever been really caught, so they kept on doing it, more and more and I’m sure it probably still goes on because people wouldn’t expect it now. But they have been caught, and now they’re sorry…
This frankly does not cut it!!  yet I can see how easy it can become the norm. People listen in on phone lines all the time, least of which are actual telephone engineers and of course in the UK – GCHQ (the UK equivalent to the NSA). Both of which can trace their beginnings back to Bletchley Park.

And as for which papers do and don’t do it – I doubt very few haven’t used information from these sources…

So the bottom is this:

The laws exist… simply enforce them!! We have specialist departments for dealing with this too.
As for police corruption – sorry, that’s totally inexcusable and the higher the rank of the taker… means that every man and woman in their charge effectively loses the mandate and authority to act – it’s THAT serious!! Because how do we know the bent copper hasn’t given out erroneous orders to the bobby on the beat?

The newspapers have had their day! New media is already several hundred times better and you get it a whole day before!!

The concept of the Press Pass has to be completely re-thought in light of the moving times and as such all main stream news will be TV/Web based.

As for people like me? I don’t need to tap or hack anyone – just learn better written English. I’m guessing I was the only former trucker, free blogger, telecommunication, IT and net design engineer, electrician, qualified bricklayer, trained soldier and unemployed person in the room.

The Discussion at the Policy Exchange (sound isn’t great)

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The Papers………….

So the news, the web, the sphere of UK politics and as reported around the world –  it has (predictably) had far reaching effects as media organisations and politicians have been suffering under the weight of the phone hacking and payoffs scandal..
Well yeah, I understand the line of what these journos call reasonable actions to get a story but what is really going on?

It is and always has been…. But the worse part? That government and police and so many others feared it to the point of changing their path of doing what was needed, changing their path in fear of their own demise.. and ultimately it was anyway!!

And yet, how often has there been any true investigative journalism?
I haven’t read a paper for ages, in fact the last one I picked up was months ago – it was 70% advertising, one page of news and the rest celebrity sh*te and sport…. Leaving me thinking about the poor individual whom actually bought it as I dropped it back on the seat of the train.

And who is reporting on all this………. Yep, they’re making money off their own trouble!!! And it’s all well and good asking for resignations, but even Murdoch knows that if he lets a certain member of his staff go – the story will be over… And there’s no money in not having a story.

You see I’m highly irritated by the “Oh lets blame Cameron”, especially by the opposing party Labour… Labour, whom seem to have acquired a schoolboy with a bad voice as it’s leader is spouting off all this complete sh*te when he himself has had meetings to butter up Rupert Murdoch….

But the reality is that everyone at some point saw an opportunity and jumped into bed with a newspaper… A newspaper is obviously a commercial outfit so it didn’t take long for the illusion of power to take hold – especially if you stood against them in any way… For that you only had to wait a few months for the dirt and secrets of your personal life to be exposed…. And that comes generally under the title of Blackmail and Protection racket…
But then it’s only that because people in real power believe the world is going to fall apart in 5 minutes… When of course it’s not!!
Newspapers NEED the NEXT big story so there is only so long they can and will keep up on an issue before they do indeed move on. But what of the politicians that have foolishly read the newspapers believing they are a shortcut to gauging what the people truly think? When in actual fact most people openly don’t believe or concur with what is written – how then has that developed to direct coercion of a nation’s government, made to believe something the Newspapers want them to believe and act upon – when the nation simply does not think that way or even care… You can actually see in the book “The Blair Years” when the then ‘New Labour’ effectively stopped being effective and started simply responding to Newspaper stories and whatever the then US government wanted… It’s frightening stuff and frankly disgusting!!

As such we now have a culture where the truth is no longer told, where everything has to be politically correct while in the real world it isn’t and that the fear that some part of your past will destroy your job, life and livelihood… Freedom of speech is simply and very effectively owned by others and rarely you.

For those reasons I too have never stepped up to consider becoming an MP, I’ve had a life and when younger I really didn’t care what I did or who it may or may not upset.

This blog has had trouble too, I once reported something I witnessed and believed to be true and as such I got damned for it, as while a humourous and honest point of view – one wannabe politician texted and twittered complete out of context lies to the political editors of every newspaper you could name – such was their desperation to wield some form of power over opponents. Nevertheless the email rhetoric and people looking into who I am was very nerve-racking and many people including myself suddenly lost focus. If it wasn’t for the asking one’s self of basic questions, I may have succumbed to it all – thankfully I didn’t, this blog’s good friend Gabsatrucker asked “but what can they really do?” I sat back and thought “Yeah? So what can they really do?!” And of course the answer was nothing…

But in the same vein, I have some totally awesome readers on this blog who have far more up front issues in this regard than I… Some have even commented on here and living a two edged life because of the media must be frankly awful.
They are by definition their own trademarks and sadly such easy targets…. But I will underline that they are good, if not great people!!

So what does old TWB think should be done?
Well obviously the reinstatement of punishments of the hung, drawn and quartered variety is highly desirable… But in reality – This:

I believe there should be a new super commission headed up by people with experience of the wrong end of the Press, that they should have a legal background, yet be of sufficient personal wealth or recourses not to be able to be swayed by bribery of any kind.
In turn these people must be protected in law, that their individual personal lives are a media NO-GO area… They should be chosen by all political parties with HM Queen having the real power on whether they are appointed or not… After all, she is our protector!!

In the area of phone hacking – It really is so simple to do and IS very common place… The Telecommunication act is clear and as such an automatic sentence/punishment (as I can’t talk people into public floggings for some reason) should be awarded to anyone found to carry out such activities.
Then a basic tick list should be set up to make sure that the information reported on is newsworthy and balanced, because why would I even care if someone is gay or straight? If they are a transvestite, or into S&M? What someone does in their bedroom is their business – and as far as I know, it never interferes with the ability to do a job…
Getting caught publicly doing anything lewd IS newsworthy – but I care little about knowing people’s sexual orientation unless I’m the one who wants to do them!!

Other instances where reporting has directly led to someone’s down fall that is not in the public interest or even suicide should be punishable with ease…

Now… this does NOT in any way interfere with “Investigative” journalism – especially if they are uncovering real issues and corruption in the national interest. But as we’ve now seen – there is no industry more corrupt in the UK than that of the newspapers themselves.

So here’s the thing – if it isn’t online, it ain’t news – read the blogs!! These are the newspapers of the 21st Century and so what if a politician goes and parties a little too hard or wears a nazi uniform to a fancy dress night – it’s all Bull Sh*t!!!! it’s humour, a laugh and if you can’t laugh – get out of my country!!!!

But please… someone shut that Ed Miliband up…. he’s about ready for a HUA award I think – please comment if you agree :-)

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