Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

For Media, a Landmark Year of Controversy and Tragedy; MEDIA ANALYSIS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

For Media, a Landmark Year of Controversy and Tragedy; MEDIA ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: Roy Greenslade

THIS column is a cliche. It's a look back at what has happened in 2012 and therefore one of newspaper journalism's most overused traditions -- an end-of-year review.

Worse still, I am about to employ another cliche by stating that it has been a landmark year of tumultuous and unprecedented events, a turning point in media history. But there is plenty of justification for the hyperbole and the cliches.

The year began with the continuing reverberations from the News of the World phone hacking saga as Lord Justice Leveson continued to hold his inquiry hearings, which had started the previous September. By July, the inquiry had heard from 474 people and 135 organisations. From this evidence, Leveson compiled a report running to almost 2000 pages that he delivered last month.

The debate about his recommendations has become an argument between newspaper owners and editors on one side, politicians on another and what we might call "concerned public activists". Though the practical outcome of Leveson's call for a new and independent press regulator will not be clear until next month, editors' fears of statutory involvement have been assuaged. There could be a twist, but it looks doubtful.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan police went about the task of arresting journalists, largely from the Sun, with apparent glee. Was there a need for dawn raids? Was it necessary to arrest more than 20 of the paper's journalists for allegedly paying public officials? On the face of evidence shown to me, and in conversations with some of the arrestees, I began to wonder if a police force embarrassed by its previous failures had been guilty of overkill in some cases. People have been charged, so we must await their trials to know more. And serious charges were laid in May against a number of people in relation to the hacking scandal itself. Five people, including the former Sun editor and later chief executive of News International Rebekah Brooks, were accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Brooks has strenuously denied all charges.

Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications director Andy Coulson also faces a number of charges, including one of perjury. …

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