As if the condemnation of the new régime at the Guardian had not been enough of a problem for Kath Viner and her maybe not so merry band last week, the weekend has brought another broadside of severely adverse comment, this time from those who teach journalism at our Universities. Even former chief constable Andy Trotter has called the editorial backing the suppression of Leveson 2 “disappointing”.
Kath Viner, editor, the Guardian
The criticism, and the warning sounded, by those in academia bears repetition in full. It restates the verdict of betrayal stressed by this blog last week. It carries the names of those not just in the redbrick and latter-day Universities, but those in London and Cambridge. The letter is backed by 21 signatories. Here’s the text.
“Your editorial (The Guardian’s view on Leveson 2: look ahead, not behind, 2 March) constitutes a fourfold betrayal. It betrays your own journalists, who, with Nick Davies leading the way, laboured bravely and brilliantly to expose criminality and wrongdoing at national newspapers. It betrays the blameless and often vulnerable victims of those crimes, who were promised a full public inquiry, including the all-important Leveson part 2, but whom your editorial does not deem worthy of mention. And it betrays the public at large, including your readers, who, as Brian Leveson has pointed out, are entitled to know the true scale of what went wrong, how newspaper managements allowed it to happen and what lessons can be learned” asserts the opening paragraph.
And there is more. “In endorsing the cancellation of Leveson 2 you place yourself on the side not only of this Conservative government but also of its close allies, the newspapers that perpetrated the crimes and the wrongdoing. And what is your rationale? That we should look forward rather than back - a logic that negates all accountability and one that is always favoured by the unscrupulous and the unethical”.
The excoriation ends with the damning verdict “This was unworthy of your newspaper’s great traditions of independence, of service to the public and of intellectual rigour. That is the fourth betrayal”. Betrayal. Of the paper’s own journalists, of the victims of criminality carried out by the press and on their behalf, of the public and the paper’s readers, and ultimately of the Guardian’s own history. Betrayal. Four times over.
Moreover, the news for those at Kings Place could yet get much worse, and on three counts. One, rumours are now rife that many Guardian subscribers are not merely considering whether to continue with those subscriptions, but are cancelling them. Two, on a similar subject, an appeal to Guardian Members is highly likely. That is another funding source that the paper will not want to see diminished.
And three, the blowback from academia could have been far worse. One Zelo Street source with some knowledge of the letter that appears this morning commented “academics who teach journalism are very solid on this … the Guardian should be rattled because there are lots more … If it hadn't been a weekend [there] could have [been] double the signatories”. The Guardian’s core constituency. Abandoned.
What gain a newspaper that it obtains an easy ride at the next awards ceremony, but loses its soul? As well as things like readers, loyalty … and money. Just a thought.
Viner is a disgrace to what's left of liberalism in this country. And what's left long ago took to the hills to fight a long guerilla war.
Viner and her type surrendered to the worst lowest common denominators of British culture. The result is the graffiti-covered litter-strewn far right spivs rat hole we currently endure thanks to the tories and New Labour.
It would be nice to think the priests of academia have finally woken up to the fact that the money changers threw Christ out of the temple a generation ago, that too many of them stayed silent and disorganised as the looting went from bad to worse. But don't hold your breath.
Heartening to see that letter (and others) today. Like the BBC, the Guardian, for all its faults, has historically been something from this country that people in the UK and elsewhere can go to with a greater degree of trust than the alternatives. If Viner does not realise this and does not appreciate what a delicate thing such trust is, then she needs to be replaced by someone who does.
I cancelled my subscription after reading the editorial and made sure they knew why in the 'tell us why you're leaving' form. Hopefully many other people have done the same and let the editorial board of the Guardian know that they have betrayed everything they stand for.
Not that I'm expecting the likes of Kath Viner and whoever else signed off on this to change their mind. They've decided to get into bed with the rest of the press. Now let them lie in it as readership and income alike collapse around them.
I was considering subscribing. No longer.
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