Fewer than 48 hours after James Murdoch had resigned as chairman of its parent company, the editor of Sky News announced that he had authorized his reporters to hack into private emails at least twice in the past – one instance involved John Darwin, the “canoe man” who faked his own death and lived for years with his wife on his life insurance payout; the other involved a pedophile. Far from manifesting contrition, John Ryley said, “We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” noting that the satellite news organization had turned the emails over to the police in what turned out to be a successful prosecution of crime.
To suggest that it is a role of the press to gather evidence illegally to aid a police investigation insults all the reporters who have gone to jail or worse for refusing to turn their work into a tool of the state.
Compare Ryley’s comments with those of Anthony Shadid, The New York Times reporter who was memorialized in Cambridge last night. Shadid also broke a law when he entered Syria to cover that country’s carnage. He died there in February. Shadid was an impressive and humble man, who said shortly before his death that he believed some stories were worth risking his life for . . . because they were important to get out to the world and it was his job to do so.
There is a chasm between Shadid’s journalism and Ryley’s.
On a lighter note, this stumble didn’t happen last week but I only discovered it last night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34phsb4e6Eg