Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BANKS

NOW is not a great time to be a journalist: newspapers are closing, careers of the many are blighted by the misdeeds of the few and public mistrust of we messengers of unwelcome news is rife.

Of the sixty-two men and women swept up in post-Leveson investigations five were convicted of wrongdoing (three of them jailed, one suspended sentence, one cautioned), while three were cleared and 21 others had all charges dropped after investigation.

In an agonisingly slow crawl to justice that makes Dickens' Jarndyce v. Jarndyce look positively jet stream, 33 suspended scribblers either still either await trial or sit at home on police bail, their lives and careers frozen and their unproven guilt presumed by both employers and public. So far this has taken TWO years.

Serves us right, you say. And you might be right: what selfrespecting journalist would award himself the self-deprecating term 'hack' after what has gone before? And there are worse things happening to a reporter than being forced to sit at home on garden leave playing computer games instead of penning the Great Novel he promised himself he would write in the event of redundancy.

Journalism will survive the death of newsprint, never-ending bail and even jail. Besides, a cunning hack can conjure a best-seller out of any one of the three of them.

But while journalists like me seek to publicise injustice, even at pain of embarrassment when we believe the wrongs are wrought on our own kin, what journalism ought NOT to put up with is jihad.

The bloodthirsty murder of US reporter James Foley - publicly and proudly decapitated by a British Muslim, apparently - is but the tip of a horrifying iceberg.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as many as twenty foreign journalists are currently held hostage in Syria.

The exact number is unknown, kept secret by relatives and news organisations who believe publicity will hamper any negotiation.

A French journalist was released recently, reportedly on payment of a $450,000 ransom by his government.

But the jihadists know that neither US nor British governments will pay up. …

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