Here's a post I made about 6 months ago that sums up my opinion:
The media is having a tough time of it in the UK at the moment. The Levenson inquiry is over but still has to come back to us with results. It dragged on for eight months and received enough coverage that everyone in the country knows something about it, like Rebekah Brooks being given an ex-police horse or how Millie Dowler's phone was hacked and the messages deleted by The News of the World. But the scale and length of these problems with hacking is something that isn't appreciated by a lot of the public.
The first hints of something major going on and the first proper police investigations into illegally stealing information actually took place in the 90's. Johnathan Rees was the first target, a private investigator who had been operating for a decade and got paid £150,000 to obtain illegal evidence including details of active police investigations. This was for the News of the World mainly, but also the Mirror and the Sunday Times and he went to prison in 2000 (For planting cocaine on someone). When he came out, Andy Coulson, the then Editor of the News of the World, offered him a job getting information for the News of the World again. In a surprise twist that Andy Coulson couldn't have expected to happen and David Cameron certainly doesn't hold against him for not anticipating, Rees continued to get the information for News of the World illegally.
It was Operation Motorman that really shed the light on how in depth the illegality went. Police raided the house of Steve Whittamore, a private investigator, and found he had been selling illegal information to journalists. The real scoop was he'd kept meticulous records of every transaction. He'd sold over 13,000 pieces of illegal data over three years like peoples criminal records, credit cards bills, friends and family numbers, bank statements and all other kinds of confidential information to over 300 different journalists at basically every major newspaper. The estimate of how much he earned in these three years is around half a million pounds. They also found that Whittamore was something of a middle-man who had a network of informants feeding Whitamore him information which he then passed on to the papers. A Hells Angel that knew how to pretend to be a BT engineer and blag people's detail, a police worker who would get information from Scotland yard databases, two men at the DVLA, a civil servant at the DWP and several more. These sources let him pull information from pretty much every major database in the UK, so when the police tried them they had put together the biggest case against black market information that had ever been organized in UK history and newspapers and journalists were starting to feel really nervous about this, but they needn't have bothered.
Whittamore and three others were brought before the caught. The prosecutor laid out how they were being commissioned to perform illegal activities by journalists and how payments had been traced to major newspapers in return for providing confidential police when the QC asked a really relevant question of where these journalists were and why the paymasters behind these illegal activities weren't being tried as well. The prosecutor didn't have an answer. There simply hadn't been any political will to pursue them.
But even Whittamore and his informants were safe. The four of them were found guilty but the judge found himself due to the circumstances of the case to give them anything more than conditional discharges, even though he had the power to give them prison time and unlimited fines. For the same reason, a parallel case involving Whittamore and a different section of the of conspirators fell apart .
It was massive case showing not just one or two bad apples but hundreds of journalists systematically pursuing massive amounts of illegal data through these hired agents. It was obvious that newspapers were involved in large amounts of illegal activity but this was just left to rot and fester, but the scope of these activities meant that more instances of illegal activity kept becoming known. The Royal Phone hacking scandal with Goodman, Mulcaire and Coulson. Civil suits by various celebrities about being hacked. David Connett at the Sunday Times taking up a wrongful dismissal suit where he was able to show he was hired by the Sunday Times specifically to deal with illegal activities. A couple of reporters at The Guardian following this story of journalistic corruption quite doggedly.
All this has lead into where we are now. We've had the Levenson inquiry which has heard massive amounts of evidence from those involved and is considering it's decision on how the media should be governed in the future, but beyond that.we've got five separate police investigations in the UK, we've got investigations underway internationally in the USA and Australia, The Home Select Affairs Committee has said it's almost impossible to escape the conclusion that News International were deliberately trying to thwart the criminal investigation into hacking, Commissioner Akers has suggested that as well as the major players like Brooks and Coulson which have already been charged they are looking at charges against corporations, which is potentially a much bigger deal. Things are moving in the right direction in terms of illegal behaviour.
This is all good news, but it is also things which should have been done years ago when the extent of phone hacking was known because this was known about for years before this became a major issue. It's only because of a series of revelations like Millie Dowlers phone being hacked, the London Bombing victim's phones being hacked, etc snowballing that there's been enough public outrage to get this really pursued. It shouldn't come as a surprise to us that people involved in a massive criminal conspiracy like Rebecca Brooks are actually getting tried for their crimes, but in this case it is a surprise simply because they've gotten away with it for so long.
Politics and Journalism
What was a bit more unexpected, because it wasn't the focus of all these investigations even if a lot of us might have guessed it, is the link between journalists and politicians. The private meetings, the political sport, papers throwing their support behind parties, the Chipping Norton set, the gifts, the friendly and family relations. There's a lot of reasons to think that there has been a really inappropriate relationship between politicians and the media, but the massive investigations being carried out have so far largely ignored that aspect of the problem.
Now I don't want to be too biased or judgemental about whether any politicians or journalists were engaged in immoral or illegal behaviour in this particular regard, because if someone was being tried for something serious like murder I'd say we shouldn't prejudge them and we should let the evidence come out before it is looked at. The problem with this point of view is that for all the political cosying up and suspicious information we have, the truth will likely never come out. There isn't any investigation targeting this kind of corruption in the same way illegal hacking is being pursued, so we really have no choice but to look at the limited evidence available. What we know has only come about because it's tangentially connected to the main investigation into hacking and illegal methods of obtaining information.
In this case being judgemental isn't really a problem, as this limited information we currently have is likely all we will ever have, so there are a few things that immediately stand out.
Firstly, that even if we take things at face value and accept everything the politicians and journalists have said about their relationship, it's still not good. They've said that sure, we're friends, we meet up for Christmas dinner, give each other presents, go to the same parties, but we'd never let that influence any professional dealings. Now what I'm about to say might sound obvious, but even if you're not doing it consciously people are biased in favour of people they associate with. There's a lot of research been done into the science behind it, which is called in-group bias, and it's even accepted by The British Government that this kind of socialising influencing people. After all, that's the entire reason we've had royals like Prince Andrew as trade envoys. Not because they're brilliant salesmen who can deliver a good pitch, not because he has any kind of authority to change deals so they're more profitable - but because he's a friendly face that can hob-nob with billionaires and middle-eastern dictators and this in itself helps our diplomatic and foreign trade fronts.
But that's if we're taking them at their word, which there is good reason not to do. There has been a fair bit of criticism about how little some of the witnesses at the Levenson inquiry seem to be able to remember and a few analysis have been put together of just how forgetful people are. One of my favourites, even though it is an informal piece of research rather than anything truly scientific as nothing of that calibre yet exists, is one that gets a baseline level of forgetfulness in the low level journalists, members of the public and celebrities who took part in earlier modules of the Levenson inquiry and compares it with the forgetfulness of the politicians, senior advisers and executives that took place in Module 3. It turns out politicians are x8 more forgetful than normal. Cameron personally was x12 more forgetful. Senior Murdoch employees on average had x19 worse memories than normal and if you associated with Jeremy Hunt then your memory was x20 worse. Adam Smith, who was Jeremy Hunt's Special Advisor and exchanged 257 texts with Fredric Michael, a News Corporation lobbyist, was the runaway winner though with a memory that is a little more than x50 times worse than normal judging by how many times he didn't remember things when he was in front of Levenson. It doesn't fill you with hope when even in the most favourable light this indicates the people running our country and heading up companies are at best forgetful idiots and at worst are liars who're trying to protect themselves.
Probably the clearest indication of bias though in my eyes though is the difference in how Vince Cable and Jeremy Hunt were treated. Vince Cable made comments to an undercover journalist that he was going to 'war with Murdoch'. While obviously sounding bad it's not as bad within the context of the conversation where he'd used that kind of language for lots of things, like how he's fighting a war against the conservatives on a host of issues, how he has a nuclear option of walking out of the cabinet if there is ever a big Lib/Com disagreement, that kind of thing and from what he said before that particular line it was pretty clear that declaring war meant referring it to OfCom, which was one of the things he was supposed to decide on and was within his remit.
Still, it was enough to get rid of him for bias. I think people in public office should be held to the highest standards and scrutiny, so I wouldn't have had a problem with getting rid of him if they hadn't replaced him with Jeremy Hunt. This is Jeremy Hunt who before he had even been appointed had massive amounts of contact with News Corp lobbyists both directly and through advisors in his office, who had sent emails to the Prime Minister in support of the deal from his private gmail account to avoid them being accessible through the freedom of protection act, who had to be told by a government legal advisor that even though his contact with News Corp wasn't technically illegal he still shouldn't be doing them and who when he was given legal advice not to meet with James Murdoch simply talked to him over the phone instead of meeting him directly.
Saying that Vince could be biased so we have to replace him with a neutral figure, fair enough. Replacing him with someone several times more biased but biased in the opposite direction simply makes it look all the more likely that Hunt severely lacked the required impartial that this quasi-judicial decision requires.
The downfall of journalism
One thing we can do though is look at how we got here; Why journalists are churning out stories on celebrities, hacking phones and blagging for easy stories and pumping our press releases and wire reports rather than doing original research into what matters.
For one, the network of journalists that are the essential to reporting news just don't exist any more in the same way they used to and in large part this is down to Murdoch. Before 1986 the printers unions and the National Union of Journalists did a fair enough job of holding off commercial interests, standing up for their principles and ensuring high quality, although they relied on the printers union for support. An example of them fending off commercial interests came a couple of years before 1986 when the miner's strike was going on. The Sun tried to run a front page photo of Arthur Scargill waving to miners in a way that had been captured in a way looked kind of like a nazi salute with the headline 'Mine Fuhrer' in a fairly obvious attempt to slur him. Well I don't know if anyone's seen the front page of The Sun from the day they went with the story, but there's no photo and no headline. The printers just weren't willing to put it together. Instead there was a large print statement saying that the Sun production chapels had refused to print the headline or picture. It wasn't just basic morality and a sense of decency which lead the printers to do this, but also a recognition that if Thatcher succeeded in breaking the miner strike then they could be next and that's basically what happened.
Murdoch built a new print plant in Wapping and tried to reach agreements with staff which would limit their ability to organise as a union, like the end of the closed shop and a no strike clause. After months of negotiation the employees eventually went on strike and with military precision Murdoch, after asking Thatcher to confirm she would support him, had all 6,000 of them fired, convinced enough journalists to work as scabs to carry on publishing and got new workers in from EETPU to run their new presses (EETPU being this catchily named electricians union that got expelled from the TUC a couple of years later). The strike managed to last over a year under a lot of criticism from the government and newspapers as well as police suppression, but in the end it was broken, thousands of people were out of work, the union's strength was destroyed and Murdoch was making more profit. After that, the rest of the Fleet Street papers followed suit.
From there there was little resistance as journalists were fired and not replaced on a massive scale. Before the Wapping change Murdoch's titles made £35 million in profit. Three years later and this had quadrupled but during the same period their total staffing had dropped from 8,731 to 949. Again, the other papers were quick to follow him.
It's this breaking of the unions that has really accelerated commercialisation of news, because they were the big barrier against the focus purely on profit. Before then you couldn't lay off a load of staff in downsizing because you'd have a horde of journalists and printers mobilising against it. After Wapping, they couldn't. It's not news to me and I hope it's not new to you that in every privatised industry, the drive for profit will turn the focus away from social benefits and towards increasing earnings. The energy sector is pursuing short-term profit while causing massive long-term term problems for the entire world by continuing with their use of fossil fuels, with trains the rail infrastructure of the country has gone to rot since it was privatised and with housing there are millions of people who can't afford a home because the housing industry's focus is obviously on making the most money rather than housing the most people. With journalism, I'd say that ideally what they're meant to be supplying is a truthful representation of the important events. If we look at how the system has changed, especially in comparison to how things were pre-Wapping, then we can see a lot of ways in which the current set-up has really got in the way of that goal. This isn't just just because there are a few bad eggs who'll break laws if it gets them a good scoop and some money, it's a systematic failure of the media's ability to accurately report the truth.
Firstly there are simply far far less journalists out there. There aren't and have never been tens of thousands of Guardian, Daily Mail, Mirror, Independents and Times journalists out there digging up stories all across the UK for the big top tier nationals. Instead they and all the major TV and radio stations relied upon a network of smaller local papers and specialists scattered about the country that formed the essential infrastructure of news gathering. These organisations just no longer exist in the same way they did a few decades ago. A third of the local newspapers that used to exist twenty years ago have simply disappeared, while the number of journalists at the local newspapers still up and running has gone down with more than half of the provincial NUJ members lost their jobs in the decade and a half after Wapping.
The local freelance agencies that didn't publish their own paper but simply rooted out stories and sold them on were the other place that journalists could go to to get news from across the country, but these are even worse off as the big papers cut their budgets for buying stories and froze the prices of those they did get meant the agencies had to shed staff and close. There were five agencies in Leeds, now there is one. Around Merseyside three of the four agencies closed and the one that did remain shrunk to around half the number of staff. The same thing happened in Stoke, Manchester, Derby and pretty much every city across the country save London while in rural areas, the smaller towns and villages, the one-man-bands that had covered them simply went bust.
The story is the same wherever you look, like the specialist court reporting agencies that used to dig out several national news stories every day, including some fairly large scandals like when they caught the Chancellor Nigel Lawson's wife being snuck into her drink driving hearing which had been scheduled for before the courts would normally be open. Practically every supply line of national news and information to the major new organisations, not just the papers but TV and radio too, has collapsed in a bid to save money and cut costs. Meanwhile, at the big well-known news organisations things aren't much better. Although they haven't suffered cuts as massive as the ones faced by smaller newspapers because, for instance that 8000+ employees being reduced to less than 1000 I gave for Murdoch's papers after Wapping was mostly normal working people like the printers rather than journalists who are involved in finding and reporting on news, the numbers of journalists at the major Fleet Street organisations has still dropped. The big problem they face though is completely different; it's the workload. Although there are almost as many journalists at major papers as there used to be, they space they're expected to fill in a paper has trebled and that's before you take into account more recent innovations like free sheets, websites, blogs, podcasts and all those extra things that are considered essential nowadays.
Trying to do three times as much work in the same space of time has two effects. One is that they spend less time checking the accuracy of their stories to make sure they're true and the other is that they are having to rely less and less on their their own investigative journalism and more and more on other sources of information. Now the normal pipelines of information, the local newspapers and independent journalists, have been cut and replaced by new kinds of service providers that aren't up to task which the remaining journalists have to rely on more and more.
The big source journalists use is now the wire agencies like the Press Association. These are the people that the Queen or an MP or the police service or government departments speak to if they want to make a national or an international statement who also have their own reporters around digging up information. Every news organisation of any sizes subscribes to them. All the national papers, all the major regions, all the freesheets like the Metro, all of the BBC national and regional outlets, all the commercial news and radio stations, they all subscribe to it and they all rely on it. A study into the major Fleet Street publications, the respected ones like The Times, The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph, as well as the Daily Mail because it's a monstrously well-selling mid-market title found that about a third of their articles were direct rewrites of Wire material where at best they'd just slightly changed the layout. Another fifth were largely reproduced from the Wire and another fifth on top of that contained elements of wire stories but had a fair amount of original material added on top. That's about 70% of major UK stories either wholly or partly rewritten from wire copy.
It's completely replaced the national network of local journalists as the major pipeline of stories into the big papers. A typical journalistic rule is that you need two sources for every story. For a lot of media organisations, including the Beeb, a Press Association story pulled off of the wire doesn't need a second story to go on the waves, it's considered good to go as is. The problem is that wire organisations just aren't up to the job, either in terms of coverage or accuracy.
To compensate for the thousands of local reporters that have disappeared from regional newspapers throughout the country, the PA have assigned an extra fifty reporters to cover regional and local news across the Irish republic, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and all the major cities outside of London.
This means, for instance, that Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria are covered by five reporters, including trainees. Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales have two. Cardiff has four for all of South Wales and the Wales Assembly. No matter how hard these journalists work, these dozens of journalists can only dig up the tiniest fraction of news that the several thousand journalists they're replacing used to. It's not anywhere near enough. On weekends and evenings they have one reporter to cover the entire North West. That's over seven million people being covered by one person.
That's the network that the major newspapers are using in part or whole for 70% of the stories they publish. They don't have the resources to comprehensively check for accuracy which means we get stories that are simply wrong and they don't have the manpower to go and actually find out all the important stories that are happening out there. Those same problems being faced by the newspapers who are now forced to rely upon the Press Association and other wire services are being faced by the wire services themselves, but moreso.
A really good example of this is back in 2006 when two people, one of them a BNP activist who had stood as a councilor, were found with the biggest chemical explosives haul in UK history. The only place to report on this when it happened was the Lancashire Telegraph, with the information copied a few days later in the Burnley and Pendle Citizen. When people complained, the BBC's response was that the BBC didn't avoid the story, they just didn't know about it. They had no local reporter and the police chose not to push it: they hadn't gone to the PA and feed them a story which would find it's way onto the wire. How could the BBC know about it if someone didn't go out of their way to tell the Press Association them about it and the BBC didn't have their own reporters down there? One BBC reporter did try to follow it up with the Lancashire Telegraph journalist who filed the story, but she declined to get involved because the BBC couldn't afford to pay her for her work.
It's worth mentioning here that although I'm focusing on the newspapers because traditionally they form the network of journalists that funnel news upwards to all the bigger organizations whether they're radio, national newspapers, tv or anything else, the rest of the media has been effected in the same way. The BBC are state owned but have been forced to compete in the marketplace, which predictable results. 7000 jobs cut in the 8 years after Wapping. A 25% cut in 1997. Another 13% cut in 2005 followed by more cuts in 2007 to the present day. At the same time as this is happening, they're released guidelines to journalists that stated they must maintain accuracy and adequately source all stories while at the same time stating that within five minutes of a breaking news being known they have to have a four paragraph version of the story online - which simply isn't enough time to find sources for anything. The commercial stations have gotten worse too, especially ITV which used to have a strong regional presence when it was made of 11 companies but collapsed into a monopoly in 2004 and lost much of it's regional coverage along the way.
But the other bring problem of where they are sourcing their information from apart from this massive over reliance on wire agency reports is that the other influxes of data all come from biased sources. More than half of newspaper articles have clear indicators of using PR material, which is an industry that has exploded in terms of growth since the 70's. I think it's fairly obvious why we don't want PR material to become news, but a good example of this is Paul Hucker and britishinsurance.com where in 2006 a story was put out about how he insured himself against mental distress if England got knocked out of the World Cup. It was a nice little story, which easily found it's way into the Times, Guardian, BBC, ITV, Sky, Daily Mail and a lot of international organizations as well. The problem was it was fake and could be found to be fake with a few minutes on google. Paul did the same thing in 2002. He also appeared in 2005 as a generic member of the public who was so happy that british insurance would insure his house. He's also a marketing director who specializes in promoting web-based companies like britishinsurance.com and had been involved in business ventures with the Managing Director of the company before. They'd also written stories about insuring yourself against becoming ugly, being kidnapped by aliens and three women who took out an immaculate conception policy. It shouldn't have been published, and it doesn't take long to confirm this is a non-story, but it was a neat easy story of the kind the newspapers need to fill space so it became news and pushed the Britishinsurance brand. More repellent PR practices can be seen by big business, where oil companies will use PR to cast doubt on global warming.
On the other hand, and what's not so obvious is that the reliance on PR agencies just as easily stops news from becoming known if the people involved don't want it to be known. Journalists are used to getting stories from PR officers if something happens. With police forces for example they publish the info on the big stories and the positive stories, not not ones they'd prefer kept quite. As long as a reporter has enough stories to fill his column inches, it's no longer a concern that there could be several major stories he's not covering. A freelance journalist used Freedom of Information requests to find out what information one police force (Northumbria) hadn't released information on in a single weekend. It turned out over 5,000 crimes hasn't been mentioned, almost all minor but including major crimes like a man who went missing from hospital and was found dead at sea, a 74 year old man badly beaten by a group of youths and a young girl who died when she fell from a tower block. If the journalists who historically would have looked for those type of stories don't exist anymore and the people involved don't push it, there's no way for it to become news. The constant stream of information that DOES come through keeps the journalists busy enough that they can't check in on those stories that aren't pushed.
There are various other ways that truthful new reporting is damaged in perhaps more minor ways, but which all contribute to the overall problems with your news coverage:
If you want a story to sell it has to fit the popular wisdom of the day. The torture and abuse of American prisoners in the Middle east was found out about a year before if became a national news story, but wasn't run with because it didn't fit the narrative of Americans being the rescuing heroes of the Middle East. Something controversial will get you in trouble and alienate readers and major bodies like the government that you rely upon to feed you stories.
Different newspapers also have different audiences which they have to cater for in different ways. Journalists at the Daily Mail have said how they've gone to visit victims of murder, only to be called back to the office halfway there because the victims are black as one damning example.
One thing which seems like it could be a positive ideology but has some big downsides is the need to be 'fair and balanced' while providing all sides of the story. In cases of opinion where there is no hard fact or truth, this can be good but in cases of factual news problems just dilutes the coverage because this is typically done when the news is especially damning against a powerful group and needs to be neutered so the news organsiation doesn't come under fire. Israel, for instance, has massive professional and voluntary lobbying groups. HonestReporting, which is one major pro-Israel lobbying group, has a 140,000 strong member base that it can call on to drench news organisations with complaints if they see stories which refer to Israel's policies negatively and claims to have caused hundreds of apologies, retractions and revisions from news outlets. They even had enough clout to get in meetings at CNN headquarters and get them to adopt pro-Israel policies like consistently Palestinian militants as terrorists. The thing is, Palestine has no comparable lobbying organisation. In an article critical of Israel there is good reason to neutralise the real news by providing an alternative stance as it protects the paper from criticism. When you are running an article critical of Palestine, there isn't the need to present a pro-Palestinian voice in the same way because there are no Pro-Palestinian organisations out there that lobby news organisations at that level. When fair and balanced is used ideologically to ensure all voices are heard, it's fair enough. When it's used to cover a newspapers back when real news can get them in trouble, it is a problem.
Why has this happened and what to do about it
It is this combination of less staff, less resources, less comprehensive sources and having to turn a profit of eye catching stories that has turned many journalists (and most likely the organisations they work for) towards illegal activity. These journalists didn't grow up dreaming of hacking C-list celebrities phones, but in the current circumstances who is going to give a reporter several days to track down the truth in whether a story is made up.
What's clear from all of this is that a the capitalist approach has disincentivised responsible and thorough journalism. The owners got rid of journalists because it was more profitable to deliver a cheaper but lower quality product. The owners cut operating budgets so they stopped paying for stories from all the disparate sources spread across the UK rooting up information and largely rely on wire reports which are every cost effective per column inch and PR reports which are free. The editors at the owners behest make sure that stories which fit the right narrative get printed or that they get printed but framed in the correct way. We can pick out particular people like Murdoch for taking on the unions, but if Murdoch was out the picture then the same set of conditions would have been pushing other newspaper owners to do the same thing. He might have been especially ruthless and quick to act, but the dialectic between labour and capital in this instance wouldn't have been substantially altered without him.
In my opinion a socialist news industry is required to deal with a lot of these problems. Workplace democracy, the removal of capital and profit from the equation and a focus on social benefit eliminates much of the drive to not bother checking stories and churning our regurgitated information quickly from the wire and PR agencies.
I must be clear that I don't mean a centralised state-owned media. Media plurality issues have been a massive concern with the current framework so completely collapsing everything into a monopoly would be a nightmare. Instead what is needed is investment in the means of producing newspapers like printing presses and offices from where journalists can work. These facilities should then be given, lent or leased to any people in the UK capable of putting together a papers, with paper sales being tracked in a similar manner to how they are now so adequate resources can be given to each paper and adjusted as needed. We'd still have the the Times and the Daily Mail and the Mirror, but the journalists would be working for themselves. There would also be room for much more competition now that you don't need large amounts of capital to set up a rival newspaper but rather good journalism.'
We wouldn't eliminate these practices entirely because there are various other factors we can't instantly solve, like the fame from breaking a big story which can drive someone in the same way profit can or the feeling of a moral duty like David Leigh of the Guardian who has admitted to hacking the phone of a corrupt arms dealer who made hundreds of millions, although in his case he was vindicated as a the police decided it was not in the public interest to pursue a case against him. A strong and independent body to deal with press problems rather than the current system of self-regulation which newspapers can even opt out of if they find it too restrictive would ensure that those problems that do occur are dealt with seriously, but I believe a socialist system would be eminently preferable the the system we have at the moment which does still work and does produce some great stories, but is in many ways a complete shambles and a shadow of both what it was previously and what it could be if run in the proper socio-economic context.
Richard Peppiatt's publicly published resignation letter highlights a lot of the problems I mention from a first-hand perspective: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/mar/04/daily-star-reporter-letter-full
Flat Earth News is an excellent book from which I pulled a lot of info I mention here.
Dial M for Murdoch is a good guide for those who want to catch up on what happened with hacking and news international but doesn't really add much new if you've kept up to date with this as it has been happening.
Private Eye magazine does a good job both of exposing newspaper hypocrisy and covering some of the government corruption which doesn't make it into the main papers, although the humour is private school crap.