The Murdoch scandal saga that continues to play across the world is worrying on so many levels to those of us in the news industry.
It’s worrisome because the bad actions of a few could potentially have ramifications on our ability to do our jobs.
It’s worrisome that this breach of public trust could undermine the free press not only in England, but the world over.
And it’s worrisome that people who called themselves journalists stooped to such low tactics to ‘get the story and get it first’.
Those at News of the World were in a fierce Sunday morning market in the world of newspapers. The News of the World was the best at selling Sunday papers in the United Kingdom because its editors, reporters and readers jointly engaged in transgressing the basic principles of human dignity and respect for privacy.
But when the readers learned that voicemail hacking extended from politicians and celebrities to murder victims and their families, their seemingly unquenchable thirst for this type of scandal sheet reporting waned.
We get questions from readers at times regarding what some consider our conservative style of reporting.
Depending on what side of the fence one is on, “conservative” can mean anything from writing balanced news stories, to not including the details of people’s private lives in reports, to using what readers consider boring quotes.
In the modern world of 24-7 news and “win at all costs” media environment, the approach of telling a complete a story as possible and, at the very least, giving people the opportunity to comment on issues in which they are intimately involved, may seem quaint or even outdated.
There is a school of thought in the media that says ‘shoot first, ask questions later’. Hopefully, it is not interpreted to mean ‘write first, ask questions later’ – but, frankly, sometimes it is.
In our view, that school of thought has come crashing down around itself within the past few weeks with the phone hacking scandal – prompting one US media commentator to compare certain sections of the UK press to “a bunch of gangsters”.
Some people might argue that only the former News of the World and its controversial owner Rupert Murdoch’s media empire will be caught and potentially punished over the transgressions that have been committed.
That is utter nonsense and anyone who believes that the UK press as a whole will not be affected by this spreading scandal is living in a fantasy. Indeed, media outlets in other jurisdictions – Cayman not least – might feel the hurt from governments and would-be press regulators now hell-bent on making the entire industry suffer for the sins of a few.
Over the years the newspapers in the stable of Cayman Free Press have been and still are privy to otherwise private information that, when flushed out, has righted a wrong once the article(s) appeared in print.
But we at CFP can guarantee our readers that we have never and will never use unethical or illegal means to garner information.
We have a strict code of ethics that all employees are required to adhere to. A violation means dismissal.
We adhere to our ethics and principles on a daily – indeed hourly – basis as groups and individuals attempt to use us to manipulate the truth, keep us out of institutions where we belong and attempt to disguise advertising for news.
Those are just a few of the ways people from all camps attempt to put pressure on CFP products and employees daily.
But we persist in consistently providing an unbiased and factual press.
In the modern media environment, it is more important than ever to have sources of news and fact that people can trust. That trust must be earned; it cannot be assumed.
We promise our readers and the Cayman Islands that the Cayman Free Press will strive to earn that trust day-to-day. It is our most important asset.
We are embarrassed that this scandal has occurred within our own profession; a profession we plan to continue to uphold and practice as we have always done in the past – to deliver fair, factual, balanced and accurate reporting in all of CFP’s products.