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"A culture is created by drip feed"

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Anne Diamond | 16:03 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

So said one of my guests this morning whilst we were talking about the Leveson Inquiry. I'm due to give evidence to the inquiry myself next Monday, so I've been taking a particular interest in the proceedings.

How come we have a culture which apparently accepts that celebrities don't deserve a private life because they "court" publicity, a culture where tabloid journalists will do almost anything to get a story, and where, as Hugh Grant put it at the inquiry, "hate sells".

It has happened because these things have developed slowly and steadily over many years. Drip feed.

But it doesn't mean we cannot stop the drip feed and review this culture, and address it.

I think Hugh Grant was immensely impressive. But particularly articulate was Joan Smith, the writer and former partner of MP Dennis McShane, who spoke of the underlying misogyny of the tabloid press whose hacks behave like children. They are, she said obsessed with sex, they're infantile, remorseless and pitiless.

"We're all two dimensional to them", she said, "just fodder for a story".


  • Comment number 1.

    I've been following, whenever possible, the Leveson Inquiry and viewed your evidence today, as broadcast by BBC News. At one point, towards the end of your session, L. J. Leveson asked for your opinion on an issue relating to information 'in the public domain', that I feel you did not directly address. The question arose from references to an article you had written relating to Dawn French concerning, in particular, weight loss. You proposed that the material was based on either: information that Dawn French has written or spoken about herself, or; information that was already in the public domain, and is (forgive my paraphrasing) 'accepted as fact'. In my opinion, L.J. Leveson wished to elicit your perspective on the matter of information 'in the public domain', with particular regard to consideration of the veracity of such information. I have no doubt that you either knew, or believed, that the details in your article were based on 'fact', although several previous witnesses had commented on circumstances in which a newspaper had published spurious, exaggerated or distorted articles, which were subsequently reprinted in other media outlets, (despite denials by the subject regarding the accuracy of the article(s) and/or complaints directed to the original publication and or the PCC). Justification for the later publication of the material was claimed due to it having already appeared 'in the public domain' (and consequently 'established as fact'?).
    I appreciate that your answer offered an indirect response to that issue (i.e. a personal judgement by writer/editor/proprietor determines whether or not it is appropriate/ethical to publish), but my understanding was that the question sought specifically to address the issue of actual/hypothetical criteria that might determine the veracity of information 'in the public domain'.
    Sorry about me; I tend to be somewhat anal in my approach to detail :>)



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