Free Speech: Fat John Venables And The Death Of Journalism
THE Sun has a story about John Venables, one of James Bulger’s killers. Vanbles was a 10-year-old child when he killed the toddler.
Gary O’Shea writes:
A JOURNALIST is facing jail after exposing how James Bulger’s bloated killer Jon Venables got private fitness sessions behind bars. The reporter — who paid a tip fee to a prison officer — was convicted by an Old Bailey jury of plotting to commit misconduct in public office.
The story was a prison “source” telling News of the World readers:
“He [Venables] got very body conscious when he had to appear on camera on the day he was sentenced. It gave him the extra spur to improve his body image and he asked the governor for assistance.”
The only person who saw him on the magic box was the slight Mr Justice Bean. Did he mock Venables?
And as for the “personal trainer”, well, Venables was forbidden from entering the communal gym. Pretty much eveything he did was one-on-one.
Our source added: “Venables is getting up inmates’ noses again. A personal PE instructor is unheard of. It’s special treatment and people aren’t happy.”
As we noted:
Inmates are envious of an inmate housed in a restricted wing? We can’t have inmates being unhappy. We need happy inmates. We demand the be made happy now or else the paedo killer will have won! The thugs, sex criminals, gangsters, peados and killers on Venables’ wing are incandescent with rage. And we stand with them!
Venables — ten when he and Liverpool pal Robert Thompson tortured two-year-old James to death in 1993 — had been freed but locked up again when found with vile images of children. He was 18st after gorging on crisps and biscuits.
The News of the World journalist, who cannot be named, was asked: Did you consider his feelings? The reporter replied: “I would have been thinking about public interest.”
It was a good tabloid story, albeit utter balls. There are bigger lunatics and more dangerous villains in the system than John Venables. But the NoTW recognised that the child who killed a child occupies a special place in the pantheon of fear and emotion. And it chimes with the readers. The News of the World was not the country’s best-selling paper by accident. It knew what readers wanted: titilation, sensation and information. And if you have to pay to get the scoop, then so be it.
The Sun continues in the same vein, although the watery Sun on Sunday is not a patch on the NoTW, which at its best was a fantastic read – one worth paying for. News is a competitive business and the NoTW’s populism was a success.
The Sun understands that, of course. O’Shea’s story is headlined:
Guilty for lifting lid on Bulger killer perk
Much of the barbs tossed at tabloid journlist have been launched by people who don’t like what they report. Tabloid journalists are accused of belonging to “a different breed” to the proper hacks who work for proper papers.
Mick Hume notes:
…journalists should have a blank cheque to break the law. But it does mean that they should not be singled out for special prosecution and punishment, either. It is also worth recalling, amid the condemnations of the indefensible hacking of crime victims’ phones, that every great journalistic story has also involved reporters breaking the rules and often the law. Even the Guardian’s top investigative reporter admitted hacking phones at Leveson – for ‘ethical reasons’, of course.
Were you aghast when the Metropolitan Police ‘hacked’, sorry, accessed the phone records of a tabloid journalist and the Sun’s news desk? What about police hacked Mail on Sunday phones?
Can it be that phone hacking is only a huge wrong that warrants a massive criminal investigation if the tabloid press are at it? They can’t do it but the State can? Fair? Free? Of course not.
The Sun is saying that exposing a child killer who accessed images of paedophilia is in the public interest. It was. It is. Everything is in the public interest. But the powers that be want that term rarified, decided upon by the great and good, not by Grub Street hacks. The public is, we’re told, only interested in high-minded cause, like hacking diplomatic cables or exposing alleged sexism and racism. If the hacking exposes something that supports the State’s moral education classes or police work, then we’re told it’s fine.
The criminalising of tabloid hacks must be seen for what it is: an attack on free speech.