Hacked phones scandal shows needs for journo accountability: Globe editorial

The most recent edition to the years-long hacked phones scandal in the United Kingdom shows the need for greater accountability in news everywhere, argues today’ editorial in The Globe and Mail.

It add while none of the practices associated with the scandal — paying sources, interview subjects, and even the cops — are tolerated in Canada, media organizations here have a responsibility to speak out against them.

“Law-breaking in the pursuit of journalism is simply unacceptable,” the editorial continues. While journalists may fight against, say, publication bans, once they are ordered in law, Canuck journalists comply.

More accountability and transparency about journo principles and our ethical standards, would do much for the public perception of the craft, and remind everybody that it is our job to extract facts honestly. What’s not needed, writes the Globe, is more regulation.

To quote, in length, from the bottom end of the editorial:

“Journalists should err on the side of revelation, but they need to measure what they know against the public interest in knowing. They must be sure that they do not become powers unto themselves … Proprietors have to ensure that their pursuit of profit does not run afoul of the law or destroy the sense of trust in society … This does not require more regulation. The proliferation of media outlets, social media and journalistic activity by amateurs would make that pointless … The past criminal prosecutions involving News of the World case may not have been enough, but the larger wave of revulsion in Britain at the most recent alleged improprieties — now that it has reached beyond celebrity and touched “ordinary” people — may have a disciplining effect.”

It concludes:

“Reporting the facts honestly is the task of journalism, for the purpose of serving the public interest, of speaking truth to power. It is a difficult pursuit, and a high calling. Extracting the facts dishonestly is a perversion of that calling.”