Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Families Suffered Agonies in Crossfire of Media Frenzy; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Families Suffered Agonies in Crossfire of Media Frenzy; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Linford

NO WORDS can heap sufficient condemnation upon the criminal who deleted messages from a murdered girl's voicemail, causing her grieving mother to wrongly believe: "She's alive!" The pain Milly Dowler's poor parents must have endured when their false hopes were dashed must have felt like a second death in that close-knit, loving family.

And the dignity with which they have borne the doubled burden of grief demands that commentators like me desist from further exposing their suffering to public gaze. So this columnist draws mention of the Dowlers to a close.

For the same reason, the apparently unending nightmare the abducted toddler Madeleine McCann's parents have suffered elicits only the briefest of whispered apologies from me on behalf of the British press - both were ordinary families caught in the cruel crossfire of a media frenzy not of their making. The pain Milly parents must have felt I feel less sympathy for the B-celebrities who have followed those sorrowing parents to the microphone at the televised Leveson Inquiry. death in the Whatever their protestations to the contrary, the line-up of film and TV performers, soccer stars and their wives or girlfriends have all at some time or other established a mutual back-scratching arrangement with the media and are rather less deserving of our feelings.

But for those manipulative careerists who covet the media spotlight when it suits them and demand it be extinguished when it doesn't, there exist realists who 'see the light' in proper perspective, or, as Bridget Jones might have recorded in her diary, "for every Daniel Cleaver there is a Mark Darcy".

Which is why, amid the opprobrium heaped on the press by Hugh Grant this week, I found the following quote from his cinematic nemesis Colin Firth so refreshing.

"I've been photographed when I don't want to be, I've been listened to when I don't want to be and I've been followed," Firth told gossip website Contactmusic, pointing out that the press often 'cross the line'. …

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