This is a version of the speech I’m giving this afternoon to an assembly of investigative journalists from Central Europe and Russia. My work looks paltry in comparison to the crusading work of most my fellow attendees. Among them is Andrey Lipsky, deputy Editor in Chief of Novaya Gazeta, one of the last publications in Russia still critical of Vladimir Putin, whose famous reporter Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006. I’m also honoured to share a platform with Dmytro Gnap who covered the Maidan revolution in Kiev against all the odds – including baton charges and sniper bullets – for Slidtvo.info and Hromadske TV. Compared to either of these journalists I’m a celebrity hack
I come with some bad news. I come with some bad news about the state of the news in Britain today. It is now four years since Nick Davies broke the phone hacking scandal in the Guardian, and Rupert Murdoch closed one of the oldest newspapers in the world, the News of the World.From that came a political crisis: the resignations of the country’s most senior police officers, News Corp’s withdrawal of a billion dollar bid for BSkyB, a public inquiry – the Leveson Inquiry into the culture and ethics of the press – and a dozen or so criminal trials. And what has been the result? I come mainly with bad news and a little ray of hope.Britain is supposedly the birthplace of the free press. From the coffee shops and bookshops around the legal centre of London – the Inns of Court – arose the newspaper industry of Fleet Street. For 150 years our national newspapers claimed to be at the forefront of our democracy.The fourth estate boldly declares its role is to expose corruption in politics and make power accountable. But the truth is – in the information age – media is a power in its own right. And rather than hold politicians to account, more often our newspapers held them hostage.
Read more and support my continued coverage at Byline: The Restoration of Rebekah: How Rupert Murdoch Hacked the UK